Sniffer dogs join Asian hornet hunt, a short update on the hornet situation in Jersey

The following is an abbreviated report; you can access the full version in the link below.

Published: Oct 2, 2020

A NEW method of tracking Asian hornets involving a springer spaniel and a Leonberger was tested this week. Jersey’s Asian Hornet Group, spearheaded by Alastair Christie – Jersey’s Asian hornet coordinator – has been exploring the feasibility of using dogs to ‘sniff out’ the invasive species. Alastair was accompanied by local dog handler Caroline Germain and her dog, Eric, as well as a search dog handler from the UK, Tony Warren and his dog, Jess, a springer spaniel which is trained to find bodies. Up until now Jess has only worked with dead-nest material sent over by the group. ‘Tony is a beekeeper so he is aware of Asian hornets and the work we are doing, and is also aware of how dogs can be used to track different scents,’ said Mr. Christie.

Also joined by Asian Hornet Group volunteer Bob Tompkins, the hunters began testing the new method in a field in Trouville to see whether the dogs could pick up and successfully track the scent of the hornets to a pre-determined nest in a tremor Christie said the initial results were ‘very encouraging… It needs more time but it looks very promising,’ Meanwhile, it emerged this week in a Scrutiny hearing that the government was spending £65,000 this year tackling Asian hornets.

Director for Natural Environment, Willie Peggie, said: ‘We are operating with a paid coordinator and we now have 16 volunteers. We are finding fewer hornets this season compared to previous years which we think is down to a damp, mild winter and a damp spring ‘Early tracking of queen hornets has taken place on the east coast and we are seeing improvements in modern technology which is underpinning our tracking techniques.’ hunt/?fbclid=IwAR0zbgwyyRy5lMhUZOERUUE–I7SFeZ6ys2U0nTKc3RzEl2l-tI0jLwhPCM

Thanks to Claire Balla for sending in the links and to Jill Witham for the newspaper article.

Supermarket brands of honey are ‘bulked out with cheap sugar syrups made from rice and corn’

  • Tests conducted on own-brand honeys from Co-op, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda
  • Results suggest they’ve been bulked out with cheap syrups made from rice and corn – without retailers’ knowledge
  • Honey importers and shops say tests – which analyse types of sugar in honey and pick out those which came from factory rather than bees – are inaccurate
  • UK imports 50,000 tons of honey each year – about a third of it from China 

This article is taken from ‘Mail Online’ please click HERE to read the article in full.

“Beekeeping in cities is harming other wildlife, study finds; and (beekeeping is) a trendy hobby”

“Urban beekeeping becoming an ‘unsustainable’ hobby that is doing more harm than good, scientists say”. These are quotations from two articles, one from Kew Gardens and the other from The Natural History Museum. I think that these statements will be read with surprise by many people, not least by beekeepers, especially as they come from notable champions of natural history. I asked Andrew Halstead to comment on them. When you have accessed the article through the links and read them, I suggest that you read Andrew’s comments below, and I think that you will have your faith in our beekeeping restored. Perhaps you will let us all have any thoughts of your own on the content of the articles. latest-670304

Andrew’s comments:

There may be competition for nectar and pollen between honeybees and other bee species in intensively built up areas, such as city centres. However, these are not the places where I would expect the rarer species of bees to be found. Most cities and larger towns can do more to support the needs of all bees by changing the ways in which highways and public open spaces are managed. Less frequent mowing of grass areas will give plants the chance to flower. Planting schemes should take note of the plentiful advice that is available regarding plants that benefit pollinating insects. Geraniums and petunias look pretty but they are ignored by bees.

A continuation of the above topic was started by Marion in the following email to Andrew:

When I drive along roads like Seven Hills Road in late summer and see the sweet chestnut trees laden with their inflorescences, each of which may be comprised of a hundred or so flowers, I seriously wonder if there really is a shortage of flowers for bees, as stated in one of the articles Claire sent:

“Beekeeping in cities is now becoming so popular it’s actually becoming unsustainable,” warned Professor Phil Stevenson, a scientist at Kew Gardens. “There’s insufficient nectar and pollen available to support the numbers of hives, let alone the wild species we have… honeybees are now outcompeting these other species for food they all need.”

My question is, “Have you ever seen an article on this subject with details of the actual flowers, not just the bees, i.e. evidence of inadequate numbers of flowers for bees (all types) to visit, or do you think, as I do, that it’s an assumption based on bee decline, which IS measurable?” Then a related question: “How many flowers does a bee need?” Has anyone tried to estimate that, from actual observations? It seems to me that in this, as in many other aspects of beekeeping, Person 1 suggests a possible explanation for an observation. Person 2 quotes Person 1, then Person 3 repeats Person 2, without saying this started only as a suggestion by Person 1, then Person 4 states the explanation as a fact, which gets into the general mass of ‘received wisdom’, then into the literature, which is seldom questioned (the written word is considered to be more accurate than the spoken word) – or am I being cynical?

Andrew’s reply:

The University of Bristol has done some research on pollinating insects in urban areas, see

Marion Cooper

Their research indicates that urban areas can be flower-rich oases compared to the wider countryside around towns.

Andrew Halstead

Thanks to Claire Balla for sending the two articles, to Marion for adding to the discussion, and to Andrew for his helpful comments.