Beekeepers, gardeners and the general public are being asked by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to be on the lookout for a hornet that kills our insects including honeybees.
With sightings of the yellow-legged hornet, also known as the Asian hornet, confirmed in the south of England in 2016 and Jersey this year, in both instances a rapid response protocol was followed with nests and hornets destroyed. Action needs to be taken now to prevent its establishment in Northern Ireland.
Rosemary Muir of Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s (NIEA) Alien Invasive Species Team, said sightings in Ireland and Britain are expected: “We are asking everyone, but especially beekeepers and gardeners, to be on the lookout for the hornet. Early detection and destruction of nests is essential if eradication is to be achieved.”
Forest Service Bee Health Inspector, Tom Williamson added: “Beekeepers should inspect each apiary observing the entrance of the hives and the surrounding flora to check for possible hornet activity. We can also help sentinel apiary operators to use traps to monitor for the hornet.”
Never disturb or try to deal with a suspect Asian hornet nest but report it immediately.
Suspect sightings and photos of Asian hornets should be reported to NIEA via the Asian Hornet Watch app - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-app-to-report-asian-hornet-sightings or via CEDaR online recording - http://www2.habitas.org.uk/records/ISI.
Tom also encouraged beekeepers to register their apiary with DAERA, https://www2.dardni.gov.uk/BeekeepersRegistration/#/register to help contain an invasion.
He said: “It is important in the event that Asian hornet or any other exotic threat to honeybees arrives, that we are able to quickly locate vulnerable apiaries.”
To help you recognise the Asian hornet and distinguish it from other similar insects visit the National Bee Unit, the Asian Hornet Watch app itself or the Invasive Species Ireland website - http://invasivespeciesireland.com/species-accounts/potential/terrestrial/asian-hornet.