Tuesday 11th February 2020 

The BBKA’s first Asian hornet conference was held on Saturday 8th February 2020 at Myton school in Warwick.  Anne Rowberry, chair of the BBKA organised the event.
It comprised of a series of talks by Asian hornet experts and concluded with a question and answer sessions.
The day was well attended by Asian Hornet Action Team members and feedback received was good.

Talks were:
Professor Steven Martin – Life History and current research

Xesus Feas - Asian Hornet research in Spain and Portugal

Alistair Christie The Jersey experience in 2019

Peter Kennedy Research in 2020

Belinda Philipson   NBU update on 2019 and policy moving forward update on 2019 and policy moving forward as well as Sandra Gray 

Anne Rowberry gave a short talk about Gaining Recognition for your position as an Asian Hornet Co-ordinator and Team members: short certification qualification explained which included a couple of questions to show examples.

The day concluded with a Question and Answer Session which bought up lots of interesting points including  that A3 posters to help ID the Asian Hornet are available from Non native species: Free hard copies of the alert poster and identification sheet are available, contact [email protected]

http://www.nonnativespecies.org/alerts/index.cfm also has downloads available. 

Anne Rowberry gave us her analysis of the day: 

“It was very encouraging to see so many people at the conference and showing how committed they are to learn more about the Asian Hornet from the International panel of experts and from each other. Thank you for making the effort to join the conference. It is so important to understand the Asian Hornet, particularly the behaviour it exhibits around nesting and feeding and I think we all learnt some new facts. I was interested in the differentiation between queens and workers being the presence of the fat bodies in the queen.  

“Steven Martin has an immense amount of experience having studied Hornets in many different parts of the world for many years. He was able to explain their lifecycle, habits, and share a lot of the research he has done in an interesting and informative way.

Panel from left to right: Prof Steven Martin, Dr Peter Kennedy, Xesus Feas, Bob Hogge, Alastair Christie, Belinda Phillips, Sandra Gray

“Xesus Feas, a Spanish researcher gave excellent descriptions of the research he has done in Spain and Portugal and the way the Asian Hornet spread so quickly. He described one aspect of research, the current investigations about the hornets diet and was generous in sharing his knowledge, the videos he mentioned will be put on the BBKA website as soon as possible.

(In the meantime, here are two he made of the Asian Hornet and the European Hornet foraging on ivy flowers)

“Alastair Christie from Jersey gave an insight into where the nests of Asian Hornets have been found and how the numbers of Asian Hornets in Jersey are being limited Both Xesus and Alastair stressed the need to work effectively while number of these alien visitors remain manageable. Alastair also issued an invite to anyone wanting to learn more about tracking and hunting for nests to visit Jersey this year.

“Dr Peter Kennedy shared the research he is doing in the coming season and the further development of tracking devices. He shared the projects that will shed more light on the potential impact of the Asian Hornet in the UK and the research he is doing with scientists in Europe.

“Sandra Gray, the National Bee Inspector, gave a presentation from the National Bee Unit outlining the incursions during 2019 and the actions taken by the NBU. It was encouraging to see how quickly confirmed sightings were followed up and Sandra explained the process of how reports are processed and who can confirm a sighting as an Asian Hornet. 

“Belinda Philipson outlined the government position and explained clearly the fact that the Asian Hornet is an Alien non native species and as such is subject to laws forbidding the release of a trapped hornet.

“Belinda and Sandra fielded several questions about the government’s position during the question and answer session. 

“Bob Hogge, a trustee, joined the panel and a good exchange of views and questions were well fielded by our speakers. One questioner asked if we would win the ‘war’ with the Asian Hornets invasion. Stephen Martin clearly confirmed he didn’t think so but the panel did say how important it is to keep the numbers at bay as long as possible to give time for research to address some of the problems that will arise. Several people asked what else will happen. 

“The BBKA will be listening to the excellent work done to organise Asian Hornet teams in some areas and will issue guidance to help areas where this is still in embryo. We will also be issuing more information about the arrangements for verification and certification of team members for insurance purposes.  

Forward planning is essential and the BBKA will be working with the NBU and CEH to develop acceptable strategies to keep the numbers of Asian Hornets to a minimum. We will be holding further meetings later in the year.”

Anne Rowberry, BBKA Chair