• Bee-killing Asian hornets are set to invade Britain

    8th September 2013 | News | Claire
  • Apart from feeling deep gloom for our poor bees, my attention was also caught by this story because my family visited the Loire Valley a few weeks ago, and we were plagued by copious horrid giant wasps.

    So much so, that we went indoors as I was constantly hopping up and down flapping my book at them. My daughter and husband were continually either dodging them or trying to splash them, as they were flying right at us.

    Early on in the holiday when there were only a few around I saved one from drowning in the pool, during my daily routine of rescuing floundering bugs from an unpleasant death.  Later on, I would have quite happily drowned the entire nest!

    I am now wondering, from studying these photographs, whether we were near an asian hornet nest.

    – story in Metro here – http://metro.co.uk/2013/09/05/bee-killing-asian-hornets-could-be-heading-to-britain-3951268/

    and below:

    A species of Asian hornet that can grow to four times the size of British honey bees could be heading towards Britain.

    The public should not disrupt any nests they find of the ‘highly aggressive’ insect which feeds on native honey bees, said the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

    Defra said the Asian hornet, whose Latin name is Vespa velutina nigrithorax, is ‘invasive and predatory’ with a vicious sting.

    According to a Defra warning, there is a ‘high possibility’ the hornets could be introduced via imported plants, flowers, garden items such as pots or furniture, timber or freight containers.

    ‘The possibility that it could fly across the Channel has not been ruled out,’ said Defra.

    The hornets were accidentally introduced to France in 2004 and have spread rapidly throughout the country.

    It is believed they entered the country in a consignment of pottery from China and were first spotted in Lot-et-Garonne, south-west France, in 2005,

    Last year, a 54-year-old man was stung to death after disrupting a nest in France’s Loire Valley.

    Nests have been found in garages, sheds or underneath decking, Defra said.

    Beekeepers are urged to be on alert for the insect and to sign up to Defra’s BeeBase site through which they can report or learn about any sightings.

    As well as posing a ‘significant threat’ to native honey bees, the Asian hornet also attacks and eats wasps.

    ‘To protect bees from invasive threats it is important for all beekeepers in England, Scotland and Wales to sign up to BeeBase,’ a statement from Defra said.

    It has asked anyone who thinks they have seen an Asian hornet to notify the GB Non Native Species Secratariat alert at the email address – .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) – immediately.