ASIAN HORNETS – the  three pronged threat on our doorstep

Categories Community, For Members

The Asian Hornet (Vespa vetulina nigrithorax) arrived in Europe, from China, about twenty years ago, writes Bob Jackman, vice chair, Bromley Beekeepers and LHS member.

A single queen is thought to have been shipped into Bordeaux. She established a nest unnoticed. Insects in the right conditions spread fast. Now this hornet is spreading outwards at a rate of about 80km per year. Asian hornets have spread throughout France into northern Spain and Italy, along the Portuguese coast. They are now camping out along the Channel coast as far as Belgium and the Netherlands.

Arriving in Lambeth this summer

Initially, the Channel saved us, apart from the odd arrival that was quickly dealt with. But in summer 2023, the tide – probably because of strong summer winds blowing across the Channel – turned.

Over 70 nests were detected and destroyed last summer, mainly in Kent, but also in Sussex and Hampshire, and up the North Sea coast.

Isolated nests have already been found in Oxted, Surrey, not far south, in Thamesmead, and in Hackney.

Expect this invasive creature to arrive in Lambeth in 2024.

Pest controllers in France have died

Though individuals are fairly harmless, being largely interested only in collecting food, approach a nest and their highly defensive nature will express itself. Pest controllers in France have died trying to deal with Asian hornet nests. Nests should not be approached. That is easy enough if you know where they are. If you don’t, you may soon discover that their sting makes a wasp sting seem mild. And a single sting is uncommon!

Why gardeners are worried

Asian hornets have been seen largely as a problem for beekeepers. Honey bees are a main source of food. Asian hornets largely eat winged insects. And that includes the ones that pollinate your crops. A developed colony is estimated to consume around 12kg of pollinating insects per season.

They also eat soft fruit. Grape crops in northern Spain are already suffering substantial crop loss, mostly from spoilage.

What you need to do

For further information search:- BBKA/Asian Hornet Beebase/Asian Hornet

This article first appeared in our Spring Newsletter.