Somerset Beekeepers’ Association and Exmoor National Park Authority are today (September 4) calling on the public to be on the lookout for yellow-legged Asian hornets which pose a serious threat to honeybees and other pollinators.
Beekeepers, supported by Exmoor National Park staff, have been investigating an as yet unconfirmed sighting of the highly invasive Vespa velutina nigrithorax in the Minehead area.
Asian Hornet Week runs from September 9 to 15 throughout the UK and coincides with a good opportunity to prevent the destructive insects getting a foothold.
Anne Pike, chairman of SBKA, said: “Vigilance is a cornerstone of our defence strategy and we want to mobilise the county to be on the lookout throughout September and October to protect the environment we treasure so much.”
Somerset Beekeepers have set up 12 Asian hornet action teams, which cover the county, to follow-up reported sightings and educate the public.
Ali Hawkins, Exmoor National Park Wildlife Conservation Officer, said: “There is a real risk to our own native honeybee and European hornet if these alien species are allowed to take hold. Given the many pressures on our precious pollinators, including climate change, habitat destruction and pesticide use, it’s vital we do all we can to support them by reporting sightings. A good quality photo gives the best chance of tracking down the nest to prevent further invasions and Autumn represents the most likely time to see them on the wing.”
People in both rural and urban environments are urged to check plants which are in flower and attracting insects in the coming weeks, such as ivy.
Anne Pike added: “The difficulty of protecting the UK from Asian hornets is underlined by Jersey’s experience. The first Asian hornet was spotted on the island in 2016 and, in spite of the efforts of local beekeepers and volunteers, this year they have caught 69 queens, discovered 54 nests and are still looking for more.”
The Asian hornet has a distinctive orange face and yellow tipped legs and is smaller than the bright yellow striped European hornet.
Asian hornets are a notifiable invasive species and should be reported immediately, preferably with a photo using:
Anne Pike, Chairman of Somerset Beekeepers’ Association, tel: 07971 275840; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ailsa Stevens, Communications Officer, Exmoor National Park Authority, tel: 01398 322244, mob: 07772 092128, email: email@example.com
Pic cap: An Asian hornet foraging on ivy in Brittany. Photo credit: Stewart Gould, Somerset Beekeepers’ Association
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.
Asian hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) are slightly smaller than native European hornets and look like large black wasps with orange face and yellow legs:
A single Asian hornet can kill 50 bees a day, with a nest containing up to 6,000 workers and up to 350 queens.
In Jersey, France and large areas of Western Europe they are stripping the environment bare of insects before moving on to prey on managed honeybee colonies.
Asian hornets are a notifiable invasive species and should be reported immediately with photo using:
About Exmoor National Park Authority - www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk
First designated in 1954, Exmoor National Park has an amazing variety of landscapes within its 267 square miles – stunning coast, moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland and more than 800 miles of rights of way to enjoy. It is one of 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom and in 2011 was designated Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve.
Exmoor National Park Authority works in partnership with the community, local councils, businesses and other organisations to look after the National Park and promote its conservation and enjoyment. Donations to CareMoor for Exmoor are gratefully received towards the upkeep of the National Park and its special qualities.
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