Asian hornet week

Synopsis : The Asian hornet is here, perhaps to stay. Be vigilant and report any sightings as it will have a big impact on our bees and beekeeping.


Beekeeping involves observation, and good beekeeping requires good observation.

As the late, great, Yogi Berra said:

You can observe a lot by watching

It’s not just a case of looking, you have to see and interpret things as well.

What’s happening in the hive?

What’s not happening that should be happening?

Is anything significant new or unusual?

And these observations should not just be restricted to the times you are elbow deep in the brood box. Start on your way to the apiary … in fact, keep an eye on things all the time. What’s flowering, is it early or late? Have the migrant birds arrived (or left) yet?

I’ve mentioned phenology previously and, if you apply yourself, you get to appreciate the rhythm of the seasons.

And sometimes you see completely new things … to you or your environment. These probably indicate gradual – or potentially dramatic – changes to the environment that your bees share.

Climate change and environmental change

I’ve got a buddleja (butterfly bush) in my west coast apiary. It’s one of the few things not eaten by the damn deer. As soon as it starts flowering it’s visited by hordes of Red Admiral and Tortoiseshell butterflies, as well as loads of bees and syrphids (hover flies). Interestingly, I almost never see Scotch Argus butterflies on the buddleja.

Comma (Polygonia c-album)

While in the apiary a fortnight ago I noticed an unusual butterfly flitting around the buddleja. It was a Comma, a species widespread in England but very much rarer north of the central belt in Scotland. According to the NBN (National biodiversity network) atlas there are only a handful of records north of the Great Glen, all – until two weeks ago – east of my apiary.

NBN Atlas – Comma butterfly UK distribution

A hundred years ago the Comma was restricted to the South West and Welsh borders. Its range is now expanding North by about 10 km a year due to climate change. The Speckled Wood, another butterfly I’ve seen for the first time here this summer, is also moving north – albeit more slowly – again due to climate change.

But not all environmental changes are due to climate change. Some are due to direct human activity, such as the deliberate or accidental introduction of new species due to globalisation.

And, if I was in southern England (or, to keep my American readers engaged, Georgia), the thing I’d be looking out for is the Asian, or yellow-legged, hornet.

Asian hornet

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) is an invasive mid-sized hornet that predates other insects, including very large numbers of honey bees.

Asian hornet

The Asian hornet was inadvertently introduced (as one or more overwintering queens) to France in 2004 with a batch of pottery from China. It has subsequently spread widely across France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Italy. You can view the distribution by 2019 – essentially all of France, parts of northern Spain, most of northern Portugal – on this Google map.

It’s pretty obvious that conditions in much of Europe suit the Asian hornet well and I would expect that it will continue to spread to other areas where the temperature, humidity and altitude are suitable.

And, of relevance to UK beekeepers, large areas of central and southern England are suitable 🙁 .

Life cycle

The Asian hornet is a social wasp. Unlike honey bees, the mated queen overwinters alone, hibernating in a protected location until the spring arrives.

Life cycle of Vespa velutina in France.

In the spring the queen emerges from hibernation and starts building the embryo, or primary, nest. This nest is relatively small and only increases in size slowly. Eggs laid in this nest develop into female workers and the development time is prolonged (~50 days) meaning that colony expansion is slow.

Later in the season the development time drops to ~29 days and the embryo nest either expands faster or is relocated. Mature secondary nests are large and may have ~13,000 cells that produce ~25,000 hornets during the season.

The colony size peaks in mid/late autumn at which time the reproductive males and females (the latter are often termed ‘gynes’ meaning ”the fertile female in a colony of social insects”) are produced. A single nest can produces 350 gynes.

The female mates with 2.5-4 males and these new foundresses abandon the nest. The colony goes into decline and the population drops, but can remain active late into the year.

There are large gaps in our knowledge of the biology of Asian hornets, and even larger gaps 1 in my knowledge of them.

Is colony fitness and reproductive success influenced by the number of males that the queen mates with? If so, low colony densities and/or cold autumns may restrict population expansion the following season.

What are the minimum temperatures required for queen mating? This will significantly influence the northward expansion of the population. At some point – latitude or altitude – mating will be unlikely and population expansion will falter.

Here, now?

I’ve written just three posts specifically on the Asian hornet to date, all in 2016 or 2017. Interestingly, the most read of these this year accounts for just 0.02% of page reads.

Clearly, despite the current near saturation coverage in the UK press, readers of this site aren’t too energised to look at the literature that’s out there … or perhaps they’re put off by the word ’extrapolating’ in the post’s title?

Specifically that post (Extrapolating Asian hornets) was about predicting the likely rate of spread and distribution of Asian hornets from an initial incursion in Gloucestershire. The rate of spread and final distribution are probably still broadly valid, though it appears as though Kent is where this species is establishing – or has established – a foothold.

Between 2016 and 2022 there were – according to UK government statistics – 24 hornet sightings and 13 nests destroyed. The government appear to have abandoned updating that last link on the 22nd of August 2.

Current numbers for 2023 – according to the rolling updates from the National Bee Unit – show numerous sightings and 37 nests destroyed.

The first nest identified in 2023 – an embryo nest – was on the 22nd of June near Dover in Kent. My reading of the reports suggests that all but about half a dozen of the nests subsequently identified and destroyed this year are in Kent.

Incursions or an established population?

Formally, it’s too soon to declare that the Asian hornet is established 3 in the UK, as opposed to its presence being due to repeated incursions from continental Europe.

However, before the genetic data confirms that nests originate from sister queens, the geographic clustering of nests in northern and eastern Kent (including Deal, Whitstable, Folkestone, Gravesend, Canterbury and Maidstone) suggests to me that the Asian hornet is probably now established in the UK.

Dave Goulson (University of Sussex) was recently quoted as saying that it was likely that the Asian hornet was established in Kent.

The official line remains as follows (quote from Nicola Spence, DEFRA):

“Evidence from previous years suggested that all 13 Asian hornet nests found in the UK between 2016 and 2022 were separate incursions and there is nothing to suggest that Asian hornets are established in the UK. We have not seen any evidence which demonstrates that Asian hornets discovered in Kent this year were produced by queens that overwintered. We plan to do further detailed analysis over winter to assess this.”

I’m afraid, considering the distance to the continent and the (Brexit-notwithstanding) cross-Channel trade and tourism, it’s a case of “When, not if?” where the establishment of Asian hornets in the UK is concerned. I’ve considered it an inevitability since the hornet spread so widely and so fast in France.

Even if all the nests destroyed in 2023 turn out to be unrelated and due to incursions, the Asian hornet will become established in the UK next year, or the year after, or soon after that 🙁 .

Population expansion

But that doesn’t mean that attempts should not be made to identify nests and destroy them.

Data from Jersey and La Manche in Normandy shows the rate at which nest numbers increase over a relatively short period (2016 – 2022). The areas of these two regions are very different – Jersey is ~120 km2 and La Manche ~6,000 km2 – so the increases in nest numbers cannot be directly compared.

Increases in Asian hornet nest numbers

However, plotting the percentage of nests each year compared to the total in 2022 (the dashed trend line) shows that the rate of increase is about the same in the two areas 4.

Furthermore, the final nest density achieved in 2022 was also about the same for Jersey and La Manche, at 1.45 or 1.67 per square kilometre respectively.

The south of England has an area of ~64,000 km2 . If the entire area were suitable for Asian hornets (and it probably is) then we might expect over 40,000 nests within a decade.

And it’s likely that the hornet will spread beyond the south of England 🙁 .

Any meaningful reduction in nest numbers will slow the expansion of the population, and it’s clearly easier to make a big impact on nest numbers when there are relatively few of them. As the population increases they will get easier to find, but the impact of their removal will be much reduced.

It therefore makes sense to identify and destroy nests. If we are diligent the hornet will be eradicated this year but – for the reasons outlined above – it will be back.

Geographic spread

The mean dispersal distance of new Asian hornet queens in France was 18 miles.

Assuming a single round of queen production per season and that the initial population are centred (for convenience) on Canterbury in Kent you can simplistically plot the population spread in successive years 5.

Simplistic diagram of potential spread of the Asian hornet

Within two years the hornet will have reached central London (nests have already been destroyed in London, though these may have been from sporadic incursions), within 5 years it will reach Oxford and it should be as far west as Bath, or as far north as Nottingham, before the end of the decade.

Geographic spread depends upon successful mating and reproduction, the availability of suitable nest sites (that escape detection and destruction), sufficient prey and amenable weather conditions.

The graph above shows that nest numbers increase at a greater rate in some years than others (e.g. 2018 in La Manche). It’s possible that we may all be hoping for early onset autumn and harsh winters to limit population expansion of Asian hornets in the coming years.

It’s also worth noting that all those concentric circles are based upon the hornet dispersing without help. Undoubtedly it will also hitch a lift and so may travel further, faster. Remember, it originally travelled to France with pottery from China, and all sorts of stuff is transported by lorry from Kent (the ’Garden of England’) to the rest of the UK.

The United States

About 33% of the readership of this site are in the USA 6. Although the boxes we use for beekeeping might be different, the bees are all pretty much the same.

It’s also possible that these new threats our bees face might also be the same.

In August 2023 an Asian hornet was identified in Savannah, Georgia, and a nest was destroyed there a week or two later. Whether this was a single importation from Europe, Asia or the Middle East (all areas where the Asian hornet is established), or whether other nests remain to be detected, is unclear. With luck, nest destruction was sufficiently early to prevent the release of new queens.

In the USA the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) is usually referred to as the Yellow-legged hornet to distinguish it from the Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia (also known colloquially as the ‘murder hornet’ and subsequently renamed to the Northern giant hornet). Asian giant hornets Northern giant hornets were found in Blaine, Washington, and British Columbia, Canada in 2019. Subsequent searches in 2020 and 2021 led to the location and destruction of four nests. As far as I’m aware there have been no subsequent sightings.

Writing (or not) from experience

The Asian hornet is unlikely to reach my part of Scotland … ever.

This I see as one of the many advantages of living in the relatively cool, damp and windswept north western fringes of this country 7.

There are plenty of other advantages as well 😉 .

NBN Atlas – European hornet UK distribution

We don’t even have the European hornet (Vespa crabro) in Scotland 8, which is largely confined to areas south of Yorkshire.

However, I am familiar with European hornets which I used to irregularly see in my Warwickshire apiaries. They’d usually appear relatively late in the season, patrolling the hives for stray workers like miniature helicopter gunships. They are spectacular insects; I never resented the few bees they carried off and devoured, and they never caused any significant problems.

I could write about European hornets based upon my practical experience, but I’m unlikely to ever be able to do the same with Asian hornets.

I’m therefore unable to describe selective methods of trapping Asian hornets, of nest search strategies or of the impact on my beekeeping … anything I wrote on these topics 9 would be secondhand information. You’d be better off identifying primary sources for this data as I have no means of determining what is useful, accurate or informative.

Detection, eradication, control and management

Over a decade ago – when it was clear the hornet would likely arrive in the UK, the National Bee Unit and FERA produced an ‘Asian hornet response plan’ which included the following objectives:

  1. Early detection; detection of Asian hornet presence as soon as possible;
  2. Interception and preventing establishment;
  3. Eradication of any outbreak, if considered practicable;
  4. Containment and controlling an outbreak within a limited geographical area;
  5. Establishing long-term management of Asian hornets where eradication and control is no longer possible due to the number and extent of outbreaks.
  6. Aiding the beekeeping industry, pest controllers and local authorities in the form of training on pest and disease control

Until last year it looked as though efforts by authorities and a large number of dedicated volunteers (beekeepers and others) had prevented stage 3 being reached.

However, I now fear by next year we will be prioritising stages 4-6.

There’s a recent well written and referenced review of the current status of the UK strategy to tackle the Asian hornet by Peter Kennedy and Juliet Osborne (Kennedy and Osborne, 2023) which also provides contextual information on invasive non-native species (INNS). There are increasing numbers of these which are estimated to currently cost the UK over £1.8 billion annually. The expectation is that INNS’s will continue increasing with 2,500 alien species being introduced to Europe during the first half of this century.

An INNS is defined as:

“any non-native animal or plant that has the ability to spread causing damage to the environment, the economy, our health or the way we live”, but the term is further limited to species “intentionally or unintentionally introduced outside their native range by human actions”.

Which brings me on to the likely damage caused by the Asian hornet.

Impact on bees, beekeeping and biodiversity

The Asian hornet is a voracious predator, primarily feeding upon hymenopterans and dipterans, competing directly with the European hornet (Vespa crabro). However, unlike its European cousin, the Asian hornet feeds extensively on honey bees which may account for a very large proportion of the diet.

Studies by Perrard et al., (2009) of a ‘captive’ Asian hornet nest showed that individual adult hornets caught and killed 25-50 honey bee workers a day. These are caught by the hornet as they enter or leave the hive entrance. Consequently, colonies are not only depleted of foragers but also less likely to forage and so may starve.

Do not underestimate the impact this may have on beekeeping … 🙁 .

In France, beekeepers estimated they lost 5-80% of their colonies (average 30%) in areas where the hornet became established (Monceau et al., 2014).

Richard Noel, a beefarmer in Brittany, has an article on the impact on his beekeeping of the Asian hornet in the August 2023 BBKA Newsletter. He’s also speaking at the National Honey Show this autumn. In a recent tweet 10 Richard stated that 40% of his local association members did not renew their memberships after the arrival of the Asian hornet. Jaume Cambra (@Abelles3) tweeted 11 that 50% of hobbyist beekeepers ‘disappeared’ once the Asian hornet arrived in Galicia, Spain.

Asian hornet on X …

It seems unwise to underestimate the potential damage to beekeeping – both amateur and commercial.

And, while we’re worrying about our colonies, it’s worth remembering that the Asian hornet will also devastate the local insect population. I’ll return to the impact of the Asian hornet on biodiversity sometime in the future. I’m afraid it’s more bad news.

Asian hornet week

This week has been dubbed ‘Asian hornet week’ with beekeepers urged to be vigilant for the presence of Asian hornets. Workers, hawking in apiaries, can be marked, tracked back to a nest, and the nest destroyed. There’s some neat science on this I’ll perhaps discuss in the future.

There are apps for both Android and iOS that can be used to automagically report sightings of Asian hornets. 

This week is Asian hornet week because it’s early enough in the autumn (or late enough in the summer?) to prevent the production of new reproductive queens from located nests. If the nests are identified this year they cannot produce more nests next year.

There are numerous sources of information on the identification, tracing and nest location of Asian hornets. Hopefully this National Bee Unit link to information about the Asian hornet will not disappear when they next revamp their website. In addition, in terms of impact and practical beekeeping, the BBKA have recently arranged a two part Zoom briefing for beekeepers which I have yet to view 12 but will shortly … but watch it yourself as I won’t be regurgitating the content for the reasons explained above.

Note: The Zoom briefings have disappeared from the BBKA website. If any readers know where or if they still exist I would appreciate a link (by email or in the comments below – thank you).

Apologies for the absence of good news and chuckles this week 🙁 .

Keep lookin’.


Kennedy, P.J., and Osborne, J.L. (2023) A review of the success of the UK strategy to tackle the invasive insect Vespa velutina nigrithorax, the “Asian hornet.” Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, .

Monceau, K., Bonnard, O., and Thiéry, D. (2014) Vespa velutina: a new invasive predator of honeybees in Europe. J Pest Sci 87: 1–16

Perrard, A., Haxaire, J., Rortais, A., and Villemant, C. (2009) Observations on the colony activity of the Asian hornet Vespa velutina Lepeletier 1836 (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Vespinae) in France. Annales de la Société entomologique de France (NS) 45: 119–127


  1. Yawning chasms.
  2. I guess they’ve got bigger problems than a few stripy ‘flies’.
  3. Meaning reproducing and overwintering here.
  4. Apologies to the population biologists sweating over their supercomputers on these types of predictions … this really is ’back of the envelope’ stuff.
  5. Again, with apologies to the scientists who are undoubtedly using all sorts of fancy software to predict this sort of thing … all I did was draw some concentric circles on a map.
  6. cf. 43% from the UK.
  7. Whilst acknowledging that I’m still a softy southerner in comparison to readers from Shetland or Caithness.
  8. Just singleton records from around Edinburgh, Inverness and Kirkwall – weird … are these just places where there are lots of observers ‘learning a lot from watching’, or do they represent areas of importation?
  9. Perhaps other than reviewing some of the science.
  10. Is that the right name now that Twitter has morphed into X?
  11. X’d?
  12. As part two was being screened as I wrote this post.

24 thoughts on “Asian hornet week

  1. Simon Minford

    It is indeed grim news we have received this week. In addition to its potential devastation of beekeeping I cant help but wonder about the wider effects on other things such as: other insect eating species (e.g. bats, swifts, frogs etc), on wider agriculture e.g. impact of lower pollination on crops etc., and also impact on human health – one study from NW Spain identified VV stings as the primary cause of anaphylaxis. I suppose we could view this as a big range of problems, but they are also a long list of potential allies in the fight. It would be a shame if this became only a beekeeper problem!

    1. David Post author

      Hi Simon

      I ran out of space and didn’t have a chance to discuss biodiversity. I’ll return to that topic sometime in the future. If you compare the insect life in France or Spain, I always think that our environment is already more depleted and species-poor. The arrival of the Asian hornet will only make things worse.

      Although beekeepers are inevitably in the vanguard I’m aware that several wildlife charities and organisations are also involved.


  2. Laura Mackay

    This was scarily interesting, if you know what I mean?
    So a question for you. Is there any particular kind of unusual behaviour at, in, around the hive that we should be looking out for? I’m only three years into this lark and every day is a massive learning curve, and I suspect this might be another. Thanks.

  3. Geoff Spry

    The 1st sighting in British Columbia, Canada was in 2019, in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, 33 Km north of me! The nest was found and destroyed.
    According to the Invasive Species Council of BC the most recent discovery was a nest in Blaine, Washington state, just across the BC border.
    It too was destroyed. Great videos of people in full protective gear wrapping the nest site in cling wrap and then fumigation.
    Ongoing trapping has not found any hornets and apparently it requires 3 years of no sightings/trappings before declaring a “hornet free” zone.
    No doubt ongoing vigilance is required.

    1. David Post author

      Hi Geoff

      Thanks for that update on the Northern giant hornet … I’d found numerous newspaper/press articles, but nothing from any sort of government source (but it was late and I was running out of time). The bee suits they wear for those giant hornets are something else … they look like spacemen.


  4. Tony Fox

    Well. No apologies but the odds are against your predictions.

    The hornets have a limit of exploitation on a line as at today running essex london surrey hampshire.

    Oxfordshire has 2 sightings but when you look into the advise to public and what the civil servants need to progress a sighting then a huge mismatch appears. Do please fact check me.

    Secondly, scientists have a really good history of failures. Notable avian flu. The vet director said never get here. Even i knew she was oh so wrong. Now look at the defra prognosis. It doesnt exist, no caution, no warning, no prediction. Either they know history repeats or ministers are afraid.

    So. Being a glass most profoundly half full guy, i have winter to get my apiaries in order, defences in place, traps ready, sticky mats in stock, floor converted to being solid, mussles made.

    Next april at the latest we will have trapped queens. Next september i will be trapping hundreds.

    But in true fashion my bees will survive. All i have to do is make it easier for the hornets to go elsewhere.

    Did i mention my tennis practise.

    So i hope you are right but i pity those that dont prepare now. Next counties are Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

    Oxon has 2 sightings but i cant comment on herts or bucks.

    1. David Post author

      Hello Tony

      I’m not sure if you think I’m wrong or hope that I’m right. I did explain that my ‘predictions’ were really rough and ready … I used the term “back of an envelope” to indicate just how rough and ready they were.

      I’d be very happy to be wrong. I’d be delighted if the AH is not established in Kent.

      However, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the spread was considerably faster and further than I’ve suggested … firstly, it’s likely the hornet may well be established further west than Canterbury already; secondly, in France the invasion front sometimes jumped by 100 km as hornets ‘hitched’ a lift on lorryloads of logs. There have been several incursions attributed to ‘stowaway’ hornets – even as far North as Livingston in Scotland – and the more hornets that are here, the more this will happen.

      Perhaps it will be across to Wales by the year after next … 🙁

      I’ve seen no confirmation from the National Bee Unit (updated today) that there have been sightings in Oxfordshire. Oxted (Surrey), but not Oxfordshire, but perhaps they’re only listing what they term as credible sightings (which is a phrase they use quite a bit and probably means supported by a photo or from someone with prior AH experience … ).

      Current tally of nests found is now 42.

      Preparation – both in terms of what to look for and how to respond – is clearly important. Those who don’t prepare will presumably be the 40-50% of amateur beekeepers that abandon the hobby once the hornet arrives.

      I don’t know what the scientists said about avian ‘flu, but everyone I know in that field were totally unsurprised … after all, it’s readily transmissible between animals that migrate by flying. D’oh! Often the scientists say one thing but the politicians ‘revise’ the recommendations to fit the story they want to tell. ‘Too many experts’.

      Some of the commercials have been discussing whether the impact on beekeepers generally will provide opportunities for additional honey sales, partly offsetting the saturation of the market after last year. Whist this may happen I think the impact on some of the commercial operations will necessitate a lot more work/expense, so offsetting any potential additional sales. I’ve also seen discussion that the south/east focus will go some way to negating the benefits beekeepers in that area have will the longer season.

      Time will tell … and it probably won’t be long now.


      1. Tony Fox

        Oxfordshire has has 2 credible sightings. They down become confirmed until a dead hornet is sent to the lab for confirmation. That is clearly stated on defra hornet front page. But the 2 have been visited by obka ahat people. You wont see the credible sightings listed.

        I am saying the front line will move to include oxfordshire. In spring 2024. The young queens have already moved out so if they are not trapped now or spring 2024, numbers will be up.

        I dont like that i cannot see the reported sightings. As that would indicate the movement. And i dont like i cannot see visited sightings.

        So preparations are going to be under way over winter. I hope i am wrong about 2024 but better to be prepared.

        1. David Post author

          Hello Tony

          It’s clear that different ‘rolling updates’ list different things, sometimes not defined, which is not particularly helpful. The government page lists (and defines) confirmed sightings and nest destructions but the NBU page lists credible sightings and nests (destroyed or destined for destruction).

          However, the government page lags some way behind … most recent nest destroyed (as of the time of writing) is 26/8 (on page dated 8/9) whereas the NBU page lists nests destroyed in Southampton (2) and Folkestone (1) since that date. The NBU page also several other nests since 26/8 ‘due for destruction’ or identified but not listed as a new location as there had already been nests found nearby. I guess these discrepancies simply reflect the fast-moving situation … and perhaps the Oxford sightings (and nests?) will appear on one or both pages in due course.


          PS Do you have sources for the weight of insects consumed? You stated (in your follow-up comment) that a hornet will kill 12 kg of insects which would be something like 75,000 bees … which at 50/day gives a lifespan of 5 years, and so clearly wrong. Those are the sort of figures I’d incorporate into a post on likely impact, but not without original citations so that they can be validated. The 25-50 bees/day reference (Perrard et al.,) is an example. I presume you mean 12 kg of insects per AH nest, but would like to check with the original sources, particularly since nest sizes (and hornet numbers) can be variable.

          1. Tony fox

            Source for insects killed given on the 2 part bbka talk. Now available on YouTube. He quotes the sources. Hope my hearing not defective but sounds like per nest to me. Will listen to it again and get the minute it’s mentioned.

            I get the nbu email notification direct and the bbka comms direct.

            In fairness to the civil servants, I asked why it was behind. Told every woman, man and dog out in the field so normal update time of 5 working days not happening.

            As far as the Oxfordshire sightings, each sighting is being followed up. But neither had photos. I am told by the guys it would be considered credible if a photo was attached. Otherwise it’s traps out.

            Regarding traps the relevance of 5.5mm is the drill size required to puncture traps to allow the other species out. Again it’s in the 2nd S program and else where. For beekeepers it relates to the hive because late season bees May start contracting in size but the hornet is still predating and will do a frontal attack under certain circumstances. The dadant nicot 5.5mm entry excluder stops the hornet getting in. Yes I hear the negative sides but it’s a short term requirement.

            I personally am not going to do anything except follow the French guideline. I have no hornet experience. The French quideline is 2 traps per hive so I will have 2. It’s move to solid floors that’s me doing too. Yes as soon as I have experience I will be pragmatic, no problem there at all. But meanwhile I will go with the guidance all the way. That’s all I can do to fulfil my part and of course make and give out traps to my neighbours. I have too many colonies to be careless.

            It will be interesting to hear if the bbka starts promoting shared apiaries for those new beekeepers with one or 2 colonies. Again the advise is don’t get caught with less than 5 colonies in an apiary.

          2. David Post author

            I’ve yet to watch these videos, but will.

            Interesting point about 2 traps per hive and a minimum of 5 hives per apiary. Shared apiaries have their own problems of course, but if that’s what is needed then I’m sure people will either fall in line or suffer the consequences.


          3. Tony

            Me again

            Re hornet feed weight.

            I didn’t go to the bbka talk I went to Dr maybe Professor Nicola Spence. You must be able to get closer to even her source of info than me. She was quoted as saying each hornet, could each 300 bees every day. Now with her Defra status and credentials I can’t debate her quote. But that kind of quantity info must be available to you or at least you know how to get it or get her quote confirmed as correctly stated. Don’t you just love challenges. Well I have done my bit!

          4. David Post author

            Hello (again!) … I quoted to published figures (25-50) I’d found for the bees/day consumed. 300 per day sounds very high when you take into account the duration of the wait/hunt and flying to and fro the nest. I’ll be looking into this in more detail but – other than the scientific literature hiding behind paywalls (which I do have access to) – I can only access the same information as other beekeepers or interested individuals.

            It’s Professor Nicola Spence.


  5. James

    Tangentially, I think it’s important to realise that the Asian Hornet didn’t ask to be here. They didn’t sit in some hollowed out volcano halfway around the world, slowly but surely drawing their plans against us. Ultimately we brought them here through our own carelessness. They’re not an invasion force; they’re just trying to survive given the circumstances in which they find themselves. It therefore disturbs me to see the savagery with which some people talk (rage) about Vv. I don’t dispute the necessity of the actions we have to take, but the eusocial insects are a fascinating group of creatures and to destroy any of them can only ever be at best regrettable.

    I’ve read reports (though I can’t speak for their accuracy) that through lack of awareness some people (even in areas where no Vv. have been seen so far) may be killing just about any black and yellow stripey insect they come across on the grounds that “it’s better to be safe than sorry”. Perhaps the current publicity needs to be tempered with a message that many such insects are quite safe or even very important to us and certainly shouldn’t be killed unnecessarily. Time for some positive PR for (common) wasps, perhaps?

    1. David Post author

      Hello James

      I agree, absolutely.

      It’s clear that some of the trapping being done is very indiscriminate, with a large amount of ‘bycatch’. That’s completely unacceptable. This is part of the reason I’ve not discussed the design or baiting of any traps. I don’t know what works and what does not, so I’m unwilling to promote anything based upon secondhand knowledge. Indiscriminate trapping will just further deplete these already threatened insect populations … and these will further be threatened by the arrival of Asian hornets.

      Thank you for emphasising this.


  6. Sian Aubrey

    I’m intetested that you say the Asian Hornet will never reach your part of Scotland. Even with the pace of global warming?

    1. David Post author

      Hi Sian

      The average annual temperature is 2-3°C different and the autumn temperatures (which may be more important in terms of queen mating and dispersal) probably differ by more than this:

      That being the case we’ll have bigger problems to worry about than Asian hornets if global warming raises our temperatures here by that amount. However, the predicted rise in sea levels may mean that parts of the south of England are no longer bothered by Asian hornets 😉 .

      So, ‘Never’ was probably wrong … ‘not in the foreseeable future’ or ‘not before climate armageddon’ might be more accurate. I’m not sure if the predicted spread published by Budge and colleagues a few years ago (discussed in ‘Extrapolating Asian hornets‘) factored in climate change. I’ll have to go back and look.


  7. Johnny

    As regards to one of your previous posts about drone laying workers. I was carrying out swarm control on one of my hives, took queen out and left hive with a nice plump queen cell,I left alone for five weeks the checked to see if I had a new mated and laying queen.super was first to get checked and I found two frames full of drone cells and I knew right away what was happening. After a complete check there was obviously no queen or brood except for drones. So I took your advice and shook out the complete hive about200 yards away introduced a frame of brood ,larvae and eggs and left for six days, sure enough the bees had drawn out some queen cells so I got rid of them all bar one and left for a month and went back in to discover plenty of capped brood larvae in all stages and eggs,so thank you David for some sound advice which worked for me. Ps I have lost a few queens which havent come back after going out on their mating flight, I live next to a river where their are lots of swallows flying about do you think that this could be the cause.cheers david

    1. David Post author

      Hello Johnny

      Pleased it seems to have resolved. Was the drone brood only only in the supers? You don’t use drone foundation in your supers do you? Usually laying workers give a really spotty pattern, with no evidence of any ‘focus’ like a queen does. They are also notoriously tricky to get to draw queen cells … so, well done 🙂

      It could well be the swallows … I’ve got an apiary by a large pond and usually ascribe queens going MIA on mating flights to the house martens and swallows that frequent the area. Just one of those things I’m afraid …


  8. Willy Aspinall

    Your image of Jaume’s hive with a section of QE across the entrance — to keep hornets out — makes me wonder what effect this might have on the swarming process if a QE plate were installed too early in the season. Presumably, the old queen couldn’t escape and a virgin new queen couldn’t go mating, and one would likely end up with a colony no longer queenright? It seems timing the installation of the QE entrance hornet guard would be critical?

    1. David Post author

      Hello Willy

      Thorne’s used to sell something called a ‘swarm trap’ or similar … actually, they still do. It’s essentially a box with a QE at the front which goes at the hive entrance. I’ve not used it and probably wouldn’t (not least because it’s expensive and I’m mean 😉 ) as I’m sure it will trap a lot of drones which would probably not do too well.

      I don’t know anything much about using QE as an entrance guard for AH (or Vv as some people abbreviate it). I guess it’s a measure of last resort to stop the hornets overrunning the colony. My understanding is the hornets pick off returning foragers and this wouldn’t stop that.


  9. Jonathan Lee

    Your post mirrors what I think, I’m In Kent and am on the lookout a lot. I actually returned here from living in Provence France 5 years ago where I also had bees, and a lot of hornets. My hornet traps were always full up, like REALLY FULL up. My neighbour drove his tractor through a nest and was stung on his head about 24 times. Crashed the tractor, jumped into my spring to try and escape them but they kept attacking him. So he ran down the road but didn’t get far and passed out. Luckily a passing motorist called an ambulance. He spent 2 days in hospital and was very lucky to live. I have my Dadant hives here and my hornet guards are still in place, I have only seen one hornet hovering about outside this year and didn’t get a chance to ID it but pretty sure it was a european one. The Asian ones are nasty not just for bees, they kill a few people (and livestock) each year in France.

    1. David Post author

      More good news!

      Thanks Jonathan … I’m sure there will be increasing numbers of accounts like this, but also fear that beekeepers will be the group that ends up bearing the brunt of the detection and destruction work 🙁



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