Beekeepers from across the South West are getting ready to tackle the imminent threat of deadly Asian hornets ahead of the coming season following a training day held in Somerset.
Organised by Somerset and Devon Beekeepers’ Associations on behalf of the South West Beekeepers’ Forum, 150 beekeepers have returned to their beekeeping associations armed with the latest techniques to combat the insects which could decimate honeybees and other pollinators.
Somerset’s Asian hornet action team co-ordinator Lynne Ingram said: “We are on the Asian hornet front line here in the South West and this training day was a great opportunity to prepare ourselves for the season ahead.
“Asian hornets don’t respect boundaries so it was important to start preparing to work together across the region. Although it was mainly beekeepers who attended the event, one of the key messages to get across is that Asian hornets are not just a problem for beekeepers.
“We now know that these hornets build nests in garden hedges, bramble patches, in holes in the ground and also on buildings. We will be working hard to educate the public so that everyone can recognise a hornet and report a sighting. With thousands of people looking out for them, we have some chance of slowing the invasion.”
The day-long programme included presentations about the latest research from Dr Peter Kennedy of the University of Exeter and Alastair Christie, Jersey’s Asian hornet coordinator, who shared his experience tracking the non-native hornets on the Channel Islands.
SWBKF Chair Peter Darley commented: “I certainly learned a lot from some very good speakers and workshops and came away with a far clearer idea on how to proceed in our preparations to fend off the coming invasion…All of us can learn from Somerset's lead and, as a Forum, we are lucky to have them and their experience to show us the way.”
Asian hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) have distinctive orange faces, yellow tipped legs and are smaller than the bright yellow striped European hornet. They are a notifiable invasive species and sightings should be reported immediately:
Photos were taken at the Asian hornet training event held at Bridgwater, Somerset.
Notes to editors:
Somerset Beekeepers’ Association (SBKA) is a Registered Charity run by volunteers and works to advance the craft of apiculture within its membership and to promote general awareness and understanding of honeybees.
SBKA has given all its members monitoring traps and identification materials and the county is covered by 12 Asian hornet action teams which are trained to help with identification and to assist bee inspectors with verifying and tracking sightings.
Asian hornets are active mainly between April and November (peak August to September) and are inactive over the winter.