Asian Hornet – update July 2019

The Asian hornet is a highly aggressive predator of insects. It poses a grave risk to honey bees because Asian hornets will kill honey bees when they need protein to feed their own larvae. 

Asian hornets are established in much of Europe, including France and Jersey, and a number of sightings and nests have been found in the UK since 2016. To date it is believed that these all have been destroyed; however, it is important that we stay on the alert and report any sightings to the National Bee Unit. The general public and beekeepers are being asked to participate in this Asian hornet watch.

How to identify the Asian hornet

The Asian hornet is about 25-30mm long and has a dark brown or black velvety body and a dark black/brown abdomen apart from the fourth segment which is yellow/orange. Its legs are yellow at the ends and it is sometimes referred to as the Yellow Legged hornet. It is never active at night.

The Asian hornet can be confused with the native European hornet which does not pose a threat to bees and should not be harmed.

European Hornet

The European hornet is larger than the Asian hornet and is about 35mm long. It has a red/brown body, yellow head and antennae and more yellow abdominal segments than the Asian hornet. It has red/brown legs and maybe active at night.

European wasp

A close relative of the native hornet is the European (common) wasp which is smaller, at about 20mm in length, and has distinctive black and yellow markings, compared with the brown and yellow makings of the native hornet. 

More information

The National Bee Unit web site has full information about Asian Hornets and how to deal with them, information on suitable traps, and links to articles and videos covering the experience with Asian Hornets in France.

It is an offence to release a live Asian Hornet, so if you have caught one in a trap, keep it alive if possible and report it as outlined below.

If you see an Asian hornet do not try and find the nest. The Asian hornet does sting and it is important NOT to disturb an active nest.

How to report sightings of this species:

Need help in identifying the Asian hornet?

It is important that we do not overwhelm the National Bee Unit with false alarms. If you need help in identifying a species you think is an Asian hornet then contact your local Beekeepers’ Association Asian Hornet Action Team (AHAT). You can find details athttps://www.bbka.org.uk/asian-hornet-action-team-map

You can contact the L&DBKA Asian Hornet Action Team at: ahat@ludlowbees.org.ukand a member of the team will come to your assistance.

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