'Bee' on high alert for Asian hornets in the New Forest area
Recent local sighting of this invasive insect which attacks our native honey bee - report if you spot one.Beekeepers are on high alert in the New Forest area after the spotting of an Asian hornet on 3 July 2019 in New Milton. After investigation by the National Bee Unit the recent Asian hornet is thought likely to have been a queen. Monitoring is now underway in the area to identify any nests which may be in the vicinity, with beekeepers urged to keep their eye peeled.
This is the first confirmed sighting since October 2018, when a sighting of an individual Asian hornet was confirmed in Dungeness, Kent. Around the same time, a nest was identified and destroyed near Brockenhurst.
The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina)
Asian hornet is an invasive non-native species from Asia. It arrived in France in 2004 where it spread rapidly. As a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, it can cause significant losses to bee colonies, and potentially other native species.
It is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee. However, as well as preying on bees their threatening presence can also deter them from flying out of their hives for honey-making, costing beekeepers valuable yield.
According to the New Forest & District Beekeepers Association, the Asian hornet is the biggest threat to British bees in the coming years and it is vital we keep a vigilant eye out for them. Beekeeping is popular in the area, with the New Forest and District Beekeepers’ Association one of the biggest in England with about 200 members.
Nicola Spence, Defra Deputy Director for Plant and Bee Health, said: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets. That’s why we are working at speed to locate and investigate any nests in the New Milton area following this confirmed sighting. While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than a bee, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects. Please continue to look out for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online.”
How to identify an Asian hornet
Asian hornets have yellow-tipped legs with a dark brown or black velvety body and a yellow or orange band on the fourth segment of abdomen. The insect is native to China but arrived in Europe in 2004 and is now widespread in parts of France, Spain, the Channel Islands and Portugal.
What to do if you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet
Identification guides and more information are available and if you keep bees you should keep up to date with the latest situation and advice on the GOV.UK rolling news story.
To find out more visit www.nationalbeeunit.com