THE Solihull Branch of the Warwickshire BeeKeepers Association (WBKA) is calling upon residents to be vigilant and look out for Asian Hornets and nests.
With around 30 nests discovered so far this summer, more than double the numbers ever found in the UK, WBKA predicts that it is now inevitable these invasive predators will reach Solihull and the West Midlands.
Between 2016 and 2022 16 Asian Hornet nests were discovered.
But so far, 30 nests have been discovered in 2023 alone, mainly in Kent and the South East, with further sightings being tracked by the National Bee Unit (NBU) indicating that they have now become established in the country.
Colin White, Solihull Branch of Warwickshire Beekeepers Association’s Asian Hornet Coordinator, said: “The Asian Hornet is an ecological disaster.
“The past few years have been a ticking time bomb for bees, with climate change, intensive farming and the decrease in flora and fauna all adding up – but it is beyond devastating that we are now seeing the numbers of Asian Hornet nests increase dramatically in Britain.
“This is an invasive species; our bees do not have any defences against them – but we can protect them. We can be their defence.”
Asian Hornets are an incredibly destructive invasive species and specialise in preying on honeybee hives.
The hornets ‘hawk’ the front of target beehives, killing honeybees and feeding them to their young.
One Asian Hornet alone can kill 60-90 honeybees per day, and dozens of them will ‘hawk’ a hive simultaneously decimating the bees, meaning it can be destroyed or irreparably weakened to the extent it cannot survive.
Colin added: “This is a desperately perilous situation for honeybees and other insect life.
The situation is urgent. That’s why I’m calling on everyone in the county to be vigilant, be aware of and report Asian Hornet sightings.
“We are now extremely concerned that they will spread throughout the UK and if they do it’s vital to eliminate them before they can establish themselves further.”
You can identify an Asian Hornet by its very distinct markings – they’re a similar size to a European Hornet, which is two or three times the size of a common wasp, and are black with distinct yellow lower leg.
Asian Hornets are also a threat to people also if their nest is disturbed.
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 on the Asian Hornet Watch App
- report it on line to the National Bee Unit, or call 03003030094.