Bee keepers - Asian Hornets; bad and good news ..

Peter Gillson

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Hi All

Monday morning Tina and I took advantage of the fine weather to clean out all of the bird boxes we have in our garden and while cleaning the one closest to our bee hives Tina saw an Asian hornet at the entrance to one of the hives. Not good news.

We duly reported it to our local Asian Hornet team who arrived later with a bait station. The idea is that the hornets will be attracted to that rather than our hives.

Yesterday and today we and the hornet team have been periodically checking the bait station and every 10 to 15 minutes there would be a hornet in the station. The intention was not to trap and kill the hornets but to monitor the direction they fly, in this case to the southwest. It is thought that unlike bees hornets don't tell each other where they hunt so it is likely that it is the same hornet each time so the nest was expected to be about 5 or 6 minutes flight time away.

fortunately another beekeeper reported seeing some hornets and so by using 'our'' hornets and the sightings from the other beekeeper the hornet team were able to triangulate (or rather biangulate) the rough location of the nest.

The good news is that it was found today, just about in a south west direction and about 5 minutes away. Over the next couple of days it will be destroyed.

this time of year it is particularly important to find the nests because they are rearing queens which will soon be released and will each make a small nest to overwinter in.

here are a couple of photos of one of the hornets - it is about one and a half inches long.

Peterman
 

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Jim R

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These hornets are a serious problem to bee keepers around the world. Another example of a creature "out of place" . Is it the climate change that allows them to spread?
When I lived on the Isle of Lewis I helped check traps set for mink. These escapees from many years before had bred very successfully - no natural predators. They were decimating the nests of ground nesting birds. The eradication was a success and when I left in 2016 it was extremely rare to catch a mink whereas back in 2005 mink in the traps was the norm.
Jim
 

Peter Gillson

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Jim

i didn't know about the mink problem on Lewis, but being an Island makes eradication an option.

Hopfully it will also help us control the hornets, which seem to be blown over to us from France, rather than being established in the Island, yet. It is thought that they arrived in France via Bordeaux and have been spreading out from there across france, reaching the Channel a couple of years ago and crossing the Channel to the UK aboard lorries.

Peter
 

CarolsHusband

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So where are you Peter ?

We're bee keepers who have recently moved to Cornwall and haven't really seen any normal Hornets here, let alone Asians.

We had a lot of regular ones in Gloucestershire but trapping kept them at bay.

We thought we had a mink killing our ducks too, but it turned out to be a couple of really nasty old crows.
 

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Glad that you spotted her! Hopefully saved a few hives. (Eldest son is trying for one of the local Seasonal Bee Inspector posts that have come up recently, he's got to the 3rd stage where he gets inspected doing a hive inspection :thinking: )
 

Peter Gillson

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Dan - we are in Guernsey, so get hornets blown over from Normandy.

Gerry - it was pure luck - if we had been a few minutes earlier or later we may have missed the one we saw on Monday. shows its worth taking some coffee and biscuits and sitting near the hive for 20 or so minutes at a time to really be sure the hives are not being predated by hornets. Before Monday we were nipping out for a few minutes, but that is not really long enough to be sure. There may be a few stragglers after the hornet hive is destroyed (tomorrow) but we should see no more by the end of the weekend.

good luck to your son, I hope he does well.

Peter
 

Steven000

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Well done Peter, happy to hear the nest will be destroyed. :thumb2: Hope the bees are doing fine now.
Steven
 

rtfoe

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I recognise those orange butts...they always signal alarm bells and I get my badminton racket for swipe at them. Usually it has to be the first hit or else it's helter skelter.
Come across huge nests in the jungle that look like alien vessels that hum.

Cheers,
Richard
 

Peter Gillson

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Hi Richard- tempting as it is to swat them, we are discouraged from doing so so that we can track their dirdction and find the nests. It seems very counter-intuitive to see the around the hive, even see them kill and eat our honey bees, but then let them fly off.

assuming the nest found on Wednesday is the one whihc these hornets are coming from, then we are very lucky, finding it in three days is very,very fast, the hornets' nest found last week was after 2 weeks of searching.

Peter
 

GerryW

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Peter, hopefully it's the one - at least this one will be gone!
Daft thing is that he's just got a new job (starting Monday) but that would go if he's offered the inspectors job!
 

Peter Gillson

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Anybody living near Ascot - they have been sighted in the Ascot area and seem to be starting to get a foothold in the UK

Peter
 

boatman

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WELL I HAD a big brown an black hornet come into my model room an boy was i scared but thankfully it just flew out the window phew
chris
 

flyjoe180

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I have spent many a summer day swatting intruder wasps in our backyard. Jandal (flip flop to you guys probably) vs wasp. Do not miss, they send signals to their mates for support if you simply wound the little pricks.
 

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They are a serious problem in France , we lived in the Loire Valley each summer for the last six years ( until Brexit screwed that up ) .
I spotted an Asian Hornet building a new nest in the garage - very interesting and clever to watch for a day or two until I managed to kill it and destroy the nest. DSC_0198.jpgDSC_0196.jpgDSC_0195.jpgDSC_0205.jpg
 

Peter Gillson

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Joe - yes,they do send signals if attacked and will attack in force. In addition, unlike bees, they can sting you more than once, and there have been cases in France of humans being killed by the Asian Hornet.

Steve - great photos. Were they taken ag the end of the summer? If so it woud have been a queen building a nest to over winter in.

Petrr
 

Peter Gillson

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Steve

end of April means that it was likely to be a queen. The Queens overwinter alone in small purpose build nests and emerge in spring to build a small nest, a primary nest, when she has produced about 100 workers they will move and build a secondary nest which will be much bigger and usually higher up. It is in this that the colony will really start to grow over the summer months, upto around 5,000 hornets. In autumn males will be produced for the first time, than some more queens which will mate and then fly off to build their small nest to overwinter until the Spring when it all starts again.

this makes me think yours was a queen.

we have what is called a Spring Queeing; which is a period when the public is warned about emerging queens and encouraged to look out for them and report any sightings. Each year quite a few queens are found and destroyed.

Peter
 

Peter Gillson

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Have the European bees derived defence as the Japanese Bees have?
I saw a really interesting video where the hornet is mobbed in the hive and the bees beat their wings and cook it alive. Really interesting.
Not yet. i assume that the short period they have been in Europe is not enough time, although there have been a few reports from France of bees starting to defend the,selves. On the other hand there are reports of bees just cowering and doing nothing.

Peter
 
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