As beekeepers we are in a uniquely advantageous position to either trap or sight the Asian Hornet ‘Vespa Velutina’ and this is vital to preserve honeybees and other pollinating insects in the UK.
Asian hornets were initially brought to France in 2004, most likely in a shipment of pottery imported from east Asia. Since arriving in France, the species has spread rapidly and decimated pollinators, partiularly honeybees, in that country.
There is now an imminent threat to that this non-native species will start ot breed in this country. If it does so it will quickly spread throughout the country so it is imperative that any sightings of the hornet are immediately reported to the Non-Native Species Secretariat. It is possible to prevent Asian hornets from establishing in the UK, and a key part of this will be detecting any queens as they emerge from hibernation with queens emerging as early as February, now is the time to be vigilant.
How to distinguish the Asian Hornet from our native European Hornet:
- Vespa velutina queens are up to 3 cm in length; workers up to 25 mm (slightly smaller than the native European hornet Vespa crabro which can reach 35mm)
- The Asian Hornet has an entirely dark brown or black velvety body, bordered with a fine yellow band
- The Asian Hornet has only one band on the abdomen: the 4th abdominal segment is almost entirely yellow/orange. European hornets, on the other hand, have a brown and yellow striped abdomen
- The Asian Hornet is known as the 'Yellow legged hornet' with bright yellow tips to thier legs, European hornets have dark legs.
- The Asian Hornet has a black head with an orange-yellow face
- Vespa velutina is a day flying species which, unlike the European hornet which will fly at night, ceases activity at dusk
Further infortmation can be found on the BBKA website
Please download our helpful factsheet and place it on local notice boards and windows. The more awareness that there is in the public eye, the better for honey bees.