Honey bee killing hornet found in UK

The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire - the first time the hornet has been discovered in the UK.

The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee. However, they do pose a risk to honey bees.

Work to identify, destroy and remove any nests is already underway, which includes:

  • setting up a three mile surveillance zone around Tetbury
  • opening a local control centre to coordinate the response
  • deploying bee inspectors across the area who will use infrared cameras and traps to locate any nests
  • readying nest disposal experts who will use pesticides to kill the hornets and destroy any nests

Defra plant nd bee health deputy director Nicola Spence said: "We have been anticipating the arrival of the Asian hornet for some years and have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.

"It is important to remember they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, though we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies. That’s why we are taking swift and robust action to identify and destroy any nests.

"We remain vigilant across the country, working closely with the National Bee Unit and their nationwide network of bee inspectors."

A local control centre will be opened on 21 September near Tetbury and bee inspectors from around England will be closely monitoring a three mile radius around the initial sighting.

They will be supported by nest disposal experts who will use an approved pesticide to destroy any hornets and remove any nests.

The hornet found in Tetbury is currently undergoing DNA testing at the National Bee Unit in North Yorkshire to help establish how it arrived in the UK.

The hornet arrived in France in 2004 and is now common across large areas of Europe. It was discovered for the first time in Jersey and Alderney this summer. It is believed the species will not be able survive in the north of the UK due to colder winters.

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