Council warns about invasive hornet which kills honey bees

Release date: 26 September 2016

Cotswold District Council is warning local residents that a species of Asian hornet which kills honey bees has been spotted in the Tetbury area.  This is the first time that this type of hornet (vespa velutina) has been sighted in Britain, and a team from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has been using infrared cameras and traps in a bid to locate and destroy any nests in a three-mile area radius around the initial sighting.  Additionally, they have sent an Asian hornet found near Tetbury to the National Bee Unit so that DNA tests can be carried out to establish how it arrived in the UK. 

This species of hornet, which is smaller than the hornet which is native to the UK, is now common across Europe after being accidentally introduced to France in 2004 in a shipment of pottery from China. In the summer it was discovered in the Channel Islands for the first time but this is the first time that it has been noted on the UK mainland. 

DEFRA officials have advised that the species poses no greater risk to human health than a bee, but they are concerned that the insect could cause considerable damage to honey bee colonies.

How to identify an Asian hornet:

  • Vespa velutina queens are up to 3cm (1.2in) in length; workers up to 2.5cm (1in)
  • Entirely dark brown or black velvety body, bordered with a fine yellow band
  • Only one band on the abdomen: fourth abdominal segment almost entirely yellow/orange
  • Legs brown with yellow ends
  • Head black with an orange-yellow face

For more details please consult the Bee Base guide or the non-native species identification guide

What to do if you see one:

If you believe you have seen an Asian hornet of spot a nest:

  • Do not go near the nest. Please send a photograph and location details to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk or submit your findings online
  • The cost of eradication on private land will be met by the Animal & Plant Health Agency APHA

ENDS

Cotswold District Council
Trinity Road
Cirencester
Gloucestershire
GL7 1PX