Image: Didier Descouens
Asian Hornet Guidance
We will be updating this page as new information becomes available.
The aim is to provide you with easy access to information should you think you have sighted an Asian Hornet in Ireland and some guidance on what to do.
Most of this information is based on information generously given by Devon Beekeepers Association
Guidance For Beekeepers
Be Prepared – Contact your neighbouring beekeepers (including non-members) and discuss plans for a local sighting of an Asian Hornet, using this guidance where appropriate.
Have a laminated copy of the National Biodiversity Centre Asian Hornet Identification Guide attached to underside of one of your hive’s roof so it is readily available in your apiary
Click the link here for a PDF download about Asian Hornet.
Action to be taken on Sighting of Asian Hornet
- Asian hornet is not known to be present in Ireland but please become familiar with its identity and if you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet please report it immediately to the National Biodiversity Data Centre with a photo to http://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/invasives or email firstname.lastname@example.org. They will take no further action until evidence (Asian Hornet or Photograph) of the Asian Hornet is produced.
- Also report to Dr Rachel Wisdom:-Entomologist, Pesticides, Plant Health and Seed Testing Laboratories, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Backweston Campus, Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland.The specimens can be killed by placing them in domestic freezer overnight. If collecting a sample please take all necessary precautions as hornets can sting.
Phone or email before sending specimen
For advise on how to take a sample of the Asian Hornet please go to “How to take an Asian Hornet Sample” lower down on this page.
- Report to Branch Point of Contact for Asian Hornet sighting
- Be part of/lead a surveillance team from Branch members.
- Be aware of how to recognise Asian Hornet – use Vespa velutina Comparison Guide linked here:
Asian Hornet comparison identification sheet
- Ensure you have suitable equipment with you
- Work in pairs
- Ensure records are kept of sightings and other relevant information
- Do not release details of location or personal details – no press disclosure
- Be sensitive to land ownership & general public
- Act with caution & care
- Take video recordings and obtain sample where possible
- Report & send evidence to the National Biodiversity Data Centre with a photo to http://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/invasives or e-mail email@example.com
- If appropriate start noting flight lines.
Instructions for beekeepers in obtaining a sample of an Asian Hornet for identification Purposes
If you think that you have sighted an Asian Hornet you are required to report your observations to the National Biodiversity Data Centre with a photo .
This can now be done in several ways:
Via an online form to http://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/invasives or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
They will take no further action until evidence (Asian Hornet sample or photograph) of the Asian Hornet is produced.
Contacting your Local Beekeeping Association may give you access to a group of volunteers that will help you in getting the evidence that is needed.
If the Asian Hornets are visiting an apiary it is easier to collect a sample than to get photographic evidence. If the Hornets are predating over a wide area, photographic evidence, possibly video, will be the only option apart from setting hornet traps over a wide area.
The Asian Hornets will often approach the hive from behind and remain underneath, emerging with a bee that had missed the landing board or ready to take a returning bee as they approach the hive entrance. It is this moment, when the Hornet is hovering, that is the easiest time to collect a specimen.
This can be done using a child’s shrimp net and putting the insect in a jar or small bottle or by striking the insect to the ground with a racket of some kind before placing it in a jar.
The speed of flight of the Hornet is impressive and often the insect seems to disappear. Several pairs of eyes are helpful in tracking their movements. Placing skirts around the base of the hive is helpful in keeping the Hornets more visible.
This is now routinely done in France.
Once the Hornet has collected a bee it flies a short distance (2 to 5 metres) to a bush, bracken or branch. Whilst hanging upside down by its long back legs it butchers the bee by first removing its abdomen and then its head. This process takes a little under a minute. If there are no physical barriers to the contrary the Hornet will now fly directly back to its nest.
A compass bearing of such a flight will give a good indication of the nest’s direction. Two or more of these flight lines from different positions will allow a triangulated position of the nest to be obtained.
Remember that this is not just your problem – it is everyone’s problem.
Guidance For Associations
Branches are encouraged to support members in the following way:
- Appoint a Coordinator to act as Point of Contact for Asian Hornet sightings – could be Swarm or Disease Coordinator
- Encourage Swarm Collectors to become Branch Experts on Asian Hornet & to take a lead in responding to sightings
- Create a list of members willing to assist in surveillance following a sighting – members do not need to be experienced beekeepers (but having reasonable eyesight would be useful.)
- Encourage members to liaise with their neighbour beekeepers (including non-members) and be ready to respond to a local sighting
- Maintain a record of details of sightings including location & person
- Liaise with other Branches through their Coordinator to provide ‘neighbourly’ support
- Support County-wide training
- Assist in provision of equipment such as: shrimp nets, traps, camera, binoculars, sample jars/pots with lids, compass, mobile phones with GPS, large scale maps, note-books & pens
- Ensure your Branch website is up to date (link to IBA CLG website if appropriate)
DIY Hornet Traps
The debate about Hornet Traps:
Do they do more harm than good?
After a single find of a Asian Hornet nest Nr. Tetbury, Gloucestershire in 2016 there was enthusiasm amongst beekeepers to set out various design of trap across the country especially to capture new queens emerging from hibernation.
12 months later with another find of a nest in North Devon, thinking changed. Maybe these traps are not a good idea. Here is a list of anxieties and points to consider if they are used.
Proposed and draft principles on the use of bottle hornet traps
- Considerable harm can come to beneficial insects with overuse (even just use) of bottle traps.
- Hornet queens when coming out of hibernation are not attracted to apiaries or bees.
- At this time queens look initially for sweet carbohydrates as do queens of other species.
- Traps musty be looked at regularly, daily if poss , to release trapped beneficials .
- Traps can be placed anywhere at this time even at home, no need to place near an apiary. They can be anywhere, esp near parked up caravans, motor homes etc.
- After a few weeks the bait has to be changed to protein. If several traps are in the area they can be changed one at a time over a period of weeks. We don’t have enough experience yet to recommend a time.
- After a date yet to be determined the traps should be removed for the summer.
- Vigilance at apiaries is now critical especially in later weeks as the season ends.
- Raiding hornets have to be confirmed early and the nest located, currently by professionals but eventually by beekeepers(?)
- I’ve yet to be convinced of the value of trapping worker hornets ( or wasps) . If there are a few caught there is the potential for thousands more to be not far away and young new season beneficial insect queens will be foraging actively before hibernation.
There is a lot to learn about managing this serious alien invader.
Asian Hornet Blog in France
IBA Library: Prof Stephen John Martin on the Asian Hornet (check library section)