Stamford and Bourne Beekeepers Association urges people to look out for vicious Asian hornets
Beekeepers are urging people to be on the lookout for vicious Asian hornets which can grow to three times the size of a common wasp.
As well as giving people a painful sting, the dastardly bugs also target honey bee hives and have been known to kill entire colonies.
Richard Stapling, of the Stamford and Bourne Beekeepers Association, said the hornets had not yet been spotted in the area but residents should be on their guard.
If spotted, their nests have to be swiftly destroyed by pest control experts before they have the chance to wreak havoc on the local bee population.
The irksome insects have already caused ecological chaos in France, Portugal, Northern Spain and the Channel Islands.
“So far the only place they’ve been found and nests destroyed is in the south of the country but they will take over if given half a chance,” said Richard, who has kept bees for 25 years.
“People are aware of European hornets and wasps, especially when they’re trying to enjoy a drink outside, but these Asian hornets are something else entirely.
“Wasps actually do good because they eat blackflies and greenflies but the Asian hornet actually attacks honey bee colonies and can wipe them out. That’s the worrying thing. They hover outside the hives and attack them.”
People can identify an Asian hornet by it’s very distinct markings - they are black with a yellow stripe on their abdomen, brown upper leg with distinct yellow lower leg. The insects are also two to three times the size of a common wasp.
The sting is said to be so powerful it could put an adult in hospital. Multiple stings from the hornets have reportedly caused fatalities in Europe.
Richard said there are 90 beekeepers in Stamford and Bourne, each with between one and five honey bee hives. These are located in gardens, allotments and farmers’ fields and will be the first place Asian hornets are likely to be spotted.
Stewart Maher, Lincolnshire Beekeepers Association’s Asian hornet coordinator, added: “The Asian hornet is one of the biggest threats to our bees. It goes without saying that due to global warming, intensive farming and less flora and fauna, our wonderful honey bee is under severe threat already.
“I’ve seen first hand the damage Asian hornets can do to a hive; they systematically destroy it and in France, where they are now established, they are an ecological disaster. Since this is an invasive species, our bees don’t have any defences against them - but we can protect them. We can be their defence.”
Stewart traveled to Jersey last year to help volunteers track and destroy Asian hornet nests. The insects have become well established on the island due to its proximity to France.
In a week, the team discovered and removed several nests. In 2019, a total of 83 nests were located and without the extraordinary efforts of local beekeepers, beekeeping would be impossible on the island.
Stewart added: “It’s heartbreaking to see what has happened in Jersey, and we do not want that to happen in Lincolnshire. If just one nest is missed and not destroyed, then six to ten more will crop up the following season. We need to get ahead of this potential catastrophe, now.”
If you think you see an Asian Hornet or nest, you can do one, or all, of the following:
- Take a photo on your phone for identification and report it by email.
- Report it to the National Bee Unit, or call 03003030094.
- Each area’s Beekeepers Association has an Asian Hornet Coordinator who can advise or help with identification, which you can find by searching Asian Hornet Action Team Map on Google.
- Download the Asian Hornet Watch app, available on iOS and Android.
Visit https://stamfordbees.weebly.com for more on the Stamford and Bourne group