Asian Hornet Update by Colette O’Connell
The Irish Beekeepers’ Association CLG takes the lead
by Colette O’Connell.
Recent months have seen one confirmed finding of Asian Hornet here in Ireland with two possible but as of yet unconfirmed sightings.
In last December’s IBA webinar, https://youtu.be/puYNYbNsNjc we were fortunate to have John De Carteret and Alaistair Christie from Jersey, provide us with their experiences and knowledge on dealing with this apex predator. This initial contact has developed into one providing Irish beekeepers with the most current and best practical knowledge available to those involved in apiculture.
Atlantic Positive with Irish members, have also been particularly supportive in assisting beekeepers to understand Vespa velutina, and we welcome the contacts that we have made in other European countries who are have come together to oppose the continue spread of the Asian Hornet. Their expertise and advance warnings to us in Ireland are so very welcome.
Our colleagues in Jersey have been to the fore warning us that we must ensure that Asian Hornet, is not allowed to establish here. Understanding that ONE fertile AH queen arriving to the Port of Bordeaux in 2004, is responsible for the spawning of western Europe, and the thousands of Asian hornet colonies found in Europe, makes this point. If secondary nests are allowed to the end of their natural cycle, 200 to 300 queens are released and will emerge the following spring, to set up their own individual nests. One can appreciate the success of it’s spread when one does the figures and estimates the outcome if even one secondary nest is allowed to continue to the end of it’s natural life cycle.
Ireland to date has been fortunate in that we have no known established populations of AH, here currently. However, our colleagues in Jersey have warned us that it is just a matter of time before we do see them. John De Carteret has warned that with the opening of extra ferry links to Europe, because of Brexit, the likelihood increases. The “Yellow legged” hornet, as he refers to it it is adept at hitching lifts on vehicles and advises that this is why transport hubs should host AH traps to alert it’s presence at the earliest opportunity. It is not enough to focus on ports and airports.
Up to this summer, in spite of it’s proximity to Spain, the Baleraic Islands have been successful in keeping out Vespa velutina due to a proactive group of rangers that remove nests when sighted.
Our colleagues have warned that we must be ready to act immediately on first sightings. Alastair Christie, Asian hornet coordinator for the government in Jersey has stated that the public are the “secret weapon in this battle”,…..”… including 85 volunteers operating in Jersey…..We can’t do this without them and every tracking case starts with a report,…..”
With this in mind the IRISH BEEKEEPERS’ ASSOCIATION, clg took the initiative and issued press releases and did interviews with media outlets to raise public awareness, The IBA took the initiative also to write to the Minister and Government Departments, with a list of actions seen as necessary to protect honey bees and pollinators in Ireland. This letter was signed by the NIHBS, Native Honey Bee Society and by FIBKA, Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations. Full letter can be viewed here with part copy pasted below.
The Minister’s Reply via Private Secretary to the IBA CLG.
Reference No: DAFM-MMO-01663-2021
“Dear Mr. McEvoy,
Thank you for your correspondence in relation to Asian Hornet.
The Asian Hornet is a serious pest not only for honey bee colonies but also for all wild bee populations. As an invasive species it comes under the responsibility of National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). My Department and NPWS continue to monitor the situation closely and have put contingency measures in place.
While both Departments are concerned about the discovery of this insect, it should be stressed that, on the basis of the ongoing surveillance, there is no evidence that the Asian Hornet is established in Ireland at this time.
Additional surveillance for the Asian Hornet, especially around entry points in Ireland with direct access to mainland Europe including ports and airports along with large distribution hubs have been put in place. Other surveillance traps have been set in locations in Dublin 3 where the Asian Hornet specimen was discovered. This is in addition to the sentinel apiary programme that my Department operates with the cooperation of volunteer beekeepers.
My Department and NPWS are also members of the British Irish Council Asian Hornet Taskforce. Through this platform information on combating Asian Hornet is exchanged between the different areas including Jersey. In 2018 staff from my Department travelled to Jersey to take part in an Asian Hornet seminar and to see at first hand the work being done there and the different techniques being employed.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the bee associations and the beekeepers of Ireland for their continued support in relation to Asian Hornet surveillance.
I hope the information above is of some assistance to you.
Asian Hornet Week in Ireland.
Asian Hornet week in the UK has interesting webinars which can still be viewed.
Further tips on suspected sightings.