4 September 2018

An Asian Hornet was found in a beekeepers monitoring trap in Fowey near the south coast of Cornwall on Friday.

Bee Inspectors have been carrying out surveillance and monitoring since, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

It follows an earlier sighting in Lancashire earlier this year.

It was first seen in Jersey in 2016, and has since been seen in north Devon.

While the sting from an Asian hornet poses no more threat than to humans than a honey bee, they are extremely defensive of their nests and have a voracious appetite for insects that could cause harm to our ecosystem. 

Nicola Spence, from Defra, said a "well-established protocol" was in place.

She said: "That's why we are taking swift and robust action to locate and investigate any nests in the south Cornwall area following this confirmed sighting.

"Following the successful containment of the Asian hornet incursion in north Devon last year and Tetbury previously, we have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.

"We remain vigilant across the country, working closely with the National Bee Unit and their nationwide network of bee inspectors."

By Didier Descouens - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26722179

Emerging threat to pollinators 

Asian hornet expert Prof Juliet Osborne, from the University of Exeter, said the sighting was "concerning".

She said: "This suggests that further sightings, particularly in the South West of the UK, are highly likely and we must all be vigilant.

"It is an invasive species providing a major new emerging threat to our beleaguered pollinator populations."

Asian hornets arrived in France in 2004 and were first spotted in the British Isles in 2016.

Monitor insects  

BBKA Chairman, Margaret Wilson, said: 

"Please can every beekeeper monitor the insects in their garden, allotment or hedgerows, it is best if you spend about 15 minutes or longer, looking at one area, as insects can come and go quite frequently. 

"If members use a monitoring trap, please check it daily and release the good insects after making sure an Asian Hornet is not there. 

"In Autumn, the preferred bait is protein like fish heads and prawns, so bait your trap accordingly but do remember not to use anything your own bees would eat."

"Should you spot an Asian Hornet take a photograph with your phone, call your bee inspector and alert your own branch committee so that we can extend the searches quickly." 

"We cannot stress enough how dangerous these Hornets can be to our pollinating insects."

Asian Hornet Week 

It's Asian Hornet Week 10-16 September where we will be asking beekeepers and members of the public to keep an eye out for Asian Hornets - you can find more here.