Master beekeeper Lynne Ingram from Somerset is working with scientists from Exeter University and Jersey beekeepers this week in the fight against deadly Asian hornets which are wreaking havoc on honeybees in the Channel Isles.
Lynne, from East Huntspill, is part of a team using ground-breaking radio telemetry to track the deadly and invasive Asian hornets back to their nests where they can be destroyed.
“This trip is an opportunity to observe Asian hornets at first hand so when they are found here I can provide support to local beekeepers,” said Lynne.
“Asian hornets are a massive threat to our honeybees and other pollinators and if they get established here could have a massive impact on our insect population.”
The first Asian hornet was spotted in Jersey two years ago and they have spread so rapidly that last week alone they destroyed seven honeybee colonies. In France the first Asian hornet was spotted in 2004 and so far this year thousands of nests have been removed.
“Asian hornets would cause irreparable damage to our environment by decimating pollinators which are responsible for one in three mouthfuls of the food we eat.”
The UK’s first Asian hornet week will be held on September 10-16 and is timed to coincide with the last chance to prevent the emergence of new Asian hornet queens. The public is urged to join beekeepers to look for the non-native and highly invasive insect and report any sightings, preferably with a photo, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Asian hornets are slightly smaller than native European hornets, have a distinctive black/dark brown thorax; brown abdominal segments with the fourth segment almost entirely yellow-orange, brown legs with yellow ends, a black head and an orange-yellow face.
Note to editors:
Somerset Beekeepers’ Association is made up of 12 divisions and works to advance the craft of apiculture within its membership and to promote general awareness and understanding of honeybees.
The Somerset equivalent of the Olympic Games for beekeepers attracted a record number of entries at this year’s County and Taunton Division honey shows held at Taunton Flower Show on Friday and Saturday (August 3 and 4).
Axbridge beekeepers Christine and Mark Guillick were awarded the blue ribbon for the best exhibit in show for their exceptional cake of wax.
Christine said: “Winning this trophy is wonderful - especially as it was awarded on my birthday! It’s great to get recognition from the judges and makes me feel better about all the work that goes into looking after the bees and preparing the entries for the Show.”
Taunton beekeepers Jenny and Sid Gammon were presented with three trophies including the Taunton Perpetual Challenge Trophy awarded to the local member to gain the most points.
Show success was particular poignantly for the couple who have decided to give up beekeeping after 33 years. Jenny said: “We’re giving up the bees but I have plenty of honey and wax ready to enter the show again next year.”
Taunton Division chair Peter Maben said the two-day show had attracted many thousands of visitors and 15 per cent more exhibits than usual from all over the county.
“It seems that everyone is talking about bees!” he said. “There’s so much interest in the health and welfare of bees and pollinators generally that our marquee was literally buzzing with people talking to us about honey bees.”
Amongst the beekeepers there was optimism about the coming harvest. Anne Pike, Chairman of Somerset Beekeepers, said: “Our honeybees are making the most of this year’s hot weather and are packing their hives with fragrant honey made from nearby flowers.
“The heat and sunshine is giving us a delicious and substantial crop, which is just what we need after several very poor years.”
Taunton Division is running a taster day next month for anyone interested in finding out more about keeping bees which includes a talk as well as chance to put on a bee suit and take a look inside a hive.
The taster day costs £25.00 per person and takes place at 2.30pm on Saturday, September 8 at Heatherton Park apiary near Bradford-on-Tone. To book a place, priced £25.00, contact: Julie Husband at email@example.com or call/text on 07867 782435.
Also, taster days will be run by other SBKA divisions www.somersetbeekeepers.org.uk
2018 Somerset Honey Show results:
The Blue Ribbon for the best exhibit in Show – Christine & Mark Guillick
Taunton – trophies, cups & awards:
The Taunton Perpetual Challenge Trophy - Sid & Jenny Gammon
The Priscott Perpetual Skep Plate - David Pearce
The Stoker Perpetual Trophy - Sid & Jenny Gammon
The Pat Barter Trophy - Sid & Jenny Gammon
The Andy Coles Memorial Trophy for Mead – jointly to Mary Adams and Graham Welfare
The Tom Tucker Trophy for Cookery – Mary Adams
The Downes Perpetual Cup – jointly to Lyndsay Stone and Graham Welfare
The Gammon Perpetual Trophy – Mike Shaw
The Taunton Honey Show Plate – Maggie North
The Taunton Honey Show Perpetual Trophy - David Pearce
The John Spiller Mascot – Anne Pike
Somerset County Cups:
Jubilee Cup – David Pearce
Miss M.D Bindley Cup – David Pearce
Terry Arnold Perpetual Challenge Trophy – Mary Adams
The Duffin Challenge Trophy – Christine & Mark Guillick
The Clifford Langford Award for Mead – jointly to Mary Adams and Graham Welfare