One of the most active Asian hornet tracking beekeepers in Jersey is warning the South West to be vigilant if it is to avoid being overrun by the highly destructive insect.
Bob Hogge, a former President of the Jersey Beekeepers’ Association, will be sharing his experience with Taunton Beekeepers on Thursday, March 28.
“You can’t avoid them coming,” he said. “The area of this country is too great to be able to spot every single nest and destroy it. But what you can do is get everyone aware of what this hornet looks like and report it, ideally with a photo when they find it.”
Asian hornets look like large black wasps with yellow legs and an orange face. Any sightings should be reported immediately to the Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS): firstname.lastname@example.org
Somerset Beekeepers’ Association has set up an Asian hornet action team to help the public and beekeepers respond to sightings and to support the National Bee Unit to find nests. Team members include beekeepers that spent part of last summer in Jersey with Bob tracking hornets.
“I was very impressed with everyone who came over. They saved our bacon, they really did. We were starting to be overrun and the day before they arrived three reports came in of hornets and then UK beekeepers arrived and joined us.”
Lynne Ingram, Somerset Asian Hornet Action Team Coordinator, added: “I was really fortunate to be able to go to Jersey to help with the fight against Asian Hornets last summer, and learnt a huge amount. Now we have to be prepared ourselves, and have set up our own team of hornet hunters in Somerset. Team members will help members of the public with the identification and reporting of Asian hornets, and with raising public awareness.”
“Asian hornets are a major threat to biodiversity, honey industry and food production of Britain, as they prey on bees and other insects. A nest can house up to 6,000 hornets and 350 queens – each capable of establishing its own colony – and a single insect can kill 50 pollinators in one day.”
Jersey was the first British island to be populated by the Asian hornet: the first non-native insect was spotted in 2016 and last year more than 50 nests were destroyed. Last month an over-wintering queen, which can found a huge nest, was spotted and there are fears that more nests will be discovered this year.
Last year two Asian hornet nests were destroyed in Fowey, Cornwall, and a further two in Hampshire.
To find out more about Asian hornets visit Somerset Beekeepers’ website: https://www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk/
Photo: Bob Hogge with Asian hornet nests discovered on Jersey.
Notes to editors:
Somerset Beekeepers’ Association 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.
Photos of Asian hornets (and beekeeping) are available to download from:
Beekeepers from all over the South West will be converging on a village hall near Taunton on Sunday, March 24 for an auction of beekeeping equipment.
The popular sale, run by Taunton Beekeepers at Ruishton Village Hall, is expected to be packed with second-hand equipment in good time for the coming season.
Bidders will be looking for bargains among a miscellany of second hand hives, smokers and honey extraction equipment.
Chris Harries, President of Taunton Beekeepers, will be wielding the gavel for the 35th year running and urged beekeepers to make sure they were well prepared for the coming season.
“Bees don’t wait for anybody!” said Chris who has hundreds of hives. “This is the last opportunity in the season to get ahead of the bees and beekeepers should have their equipment ready to go if they’re going to be able to cope once the bees ‘wake up’.”
Beekeeping involves a considerable amount of equipment: each honeybee colony requires a complete hive which is made up of a roof, crown board, up to three or more (honey) super boxes, a queen excluder (so the queen doesn’t lay eggs in the honey), a brood box and floor.
In addition a beekeeper needs protective clothing, hive tools, a smoker, a feeder to provide bees with sugar syrup if needed in the winter, a good reference book, honey extraction equipment and among many other items of paraphernalia.
Chris, who runs Sedgemoor Honey, added: “We always get a good selection of equipment and someone just taking up the craft could quite easily get started and save money. A new national hive costs around £300 but most years there are some quite reasonable second-hand ones which fetch £100 or less. Bidders need to remember to thoroughly clean any equipment to prevent the spread of diseases.”
Items for the auction will be received at the village hall from 10am to 1.30pm and the sale gets underway at 2pm.
Proceeds from the auction will support Taunton Beekeepers’ packed programme of educational courses and lectures held at its teaching apiary near Bradford-on-Tone, Taunton.