Asian Hornet Round up into 2024

Important reminder

No apologies for putting in the following . 

Next February may well be of great importance to us all.

Asian hornet 2024

Thank you to everyone who put out lures to monitor for Asian hornet in the autumn.  We can rest during the winter but overwintered queens could be active as early as mid February next year.  We all need to be alert from late winter to late autumn.  Below is a timetable for trapping and/or monitoring in 2024.

  • Asian hornet queens could be active in your locality from mid February-late March when they seek out suitable nest sites and build the initial nests in which the first broods of worker hornets will be raised. Use traps with a bait attractant placed in a sunny spot. Unwanted by-catch of other insects is likely to be small at that time of year because lower temperatures limit insect activity. Retain any Asian hornets that are caught and report the finding, using the free Asian Hornet Watch app [Asian Hornet Reporting | British Beekeepers Association (] or notify the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology online.
  • Traps for capturing queens can be easily made from plastic drinks bottles – see Asian Hornet Monitoring (
  • All Surrey Beekeepers Association divisions have purchased a bait attractant for use by their members and other interested persons.  Weybridge members can get supplies from Michael Main (Weybridge) or David Parker (Horsell).
  • From April to November, monitored lure baits can be used. These do not capture Asian hornets or other insects, so there is no by-catch. Place the lure bait in a sunny place where it can be frequently observed, eg by a kitchen window. If Asian hornets visit the lure, get a photograph or capture a specimen and report the finding as above. Also look for Asian hornets when you visit your beehives. See Asian Hornet Monitoring ( for instructions for making a simple lure bait device.
  • April-May is likely to be a quiet time for seeing Asian hornets. The experience in the Channel Islands is that sightings of worker hornets start to increase from June onwards.
  • Asian hornets are unlikely to be seen from mid November to early February, so trapping/monitoring is not worthwhile in that period.

    If you have not yet taken the simple Asian hornet test on the BBKA website [Asian Hornet Exercise (] please do so now.  You will then be covered by the BBKA public liability insurance if you are asked to check out a reported Asian hornet sighting or if you are assisting the bee inspectors with a search for a nest.  

    Hampshire Beekeepers Association Asian Hornet Conference 11 Nov 2023

    The meeting was attended by about 100 Asian Hornet Action Team leaders in a packed village hall in Itchen Abbas.  Among them was a delegation from the Isle of Wight, who were wearing their AHAT jackets.  These have a picture of the beast on the back with the slogan ‘’See it, snap it, app it’’, the app being the Asian hornet app for reporting sightings that can be downloaded onto smart phones.

    At the time of the meeting, there had been 71 nests found in 55 locations, mainly in coastal areas in south east England but some as far north as Yorkshire.  Most were tracked down within a day or two of Asian hornets (Ah) being reported.  An area of densely scrubbed steep undercliff near Folkstone, where 7 nests were ultimately found, proved particularly challenging.

    Honeybees form a large part of the Ah diet but they also prey on a wide range of other insects.  In one study, the diet was found to be made up of 38% honeybees, 30% flies, 20% wasps and 12% other insects.  If Ah becomes established here, it will have a significant effect on insect biodiversity and the pollination services provided by a wide range of insects.  Ah is not just a problem for beekeepers and this needs to be brought to the attention of the public.  

    The Hampshire Beekeepers Association (HBA) has been developing their plans to deal with Ah.  The current level of support from The National Bee Unit is unlikely to continue if Ah incursions continue to rise.  The control of Ah nests is not a statutory duty for local or County Councils.  Beekeepers need to develop a network of trained competent people to form AHATs with a leader, deputy and at least 8 other people.  Currently only licenced people can undertake track and trace operations to locate Ah nests.  Without a licence it is illegal to release an Ah.  The licencing system needs to be extended to a wider range of people so that beekeepers and other trained persons can do track and trace operations, as is currently being done in the Channel Islands.  HBA has developed an app to aid communication between its AHAT members and recording of Ah reports.  Technical problems prevented it being demonstrated at the meeting

    Members of AHATs have various roles.  They receive and investigate reports of possible Ah sightings in their area.  Most reports are of European hornet and other non Ah insects.  Weeding out these false reports reduces the number of reports sent to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (more than 18,000 in 2023!).  If a sighting is confirmed, AHAT members may be asked to assist the bee inspectors who will be leading the search for the nest(s).  After the nest(s) have been controlled, bait monitoring for Ah needs to continue in the area to make sure that there are no more undetected nests.  AHAT members (all beekeepers, in fact) should have monitoring bait lures positioned near a window through which they can easily view the bait from spring to autumn in order to detect the possible presence of Ah.  Information about the Ah problem needs to be widely disseminated through talks to local organisations and displays at public events

    One speaker gave an account of how his beekeeping in France had changed once Ah became common in his area.  He had not lost any colonies but honey production had been reduced.  Six Ahs outside a hive can reduce bee foraging by 50%; with 12 Ahs it comes to a halt.  Serious predation and harassment of bee colonies by Ah starts in June as the nests build up in strength.  As a consequence, it is spring flowers that provide most of the year’s honey crop.  Strong colonies of healthy bees with young queens are needed to survive Ah predation.  The speaker changes his brood combs every year and keeps Varroa at a low level.  Swarm control is essential to maintain bee numbers in a hive.  During the summer, feeding with syrup and pollen substitute may be needed if foraging is being prevented.  It helps to cluster hives together so the predator pressure is shared among the colonies.  Hive inspections are reduced during the summer.  When necessary, hives are opened in early morning or evening when there are fewer Ahs about.

    Methods of marking Ah workers for track and trace operations were illustrated.  This can be done in a similar manner to marking queen honeybees.  Licenced persons can release marked Ahs, noting the direction of their departure with the aid of a compass.  The time of departure and return of marked Ahs is also recorded, with the aid of a stopwatch.  Every minute an Ah is away from the bait lure indicates a flight journey of about 100m.  Once Ahs have been recorded using the bait station, it can be moved about 100m in the direction of the flight line.  Other bait station operators are doing similar checks in the area.  Where the flight lines intersect indicates the likely search area for the nest(s).  An experienced tracker can monitor the activity of as many as 8 marked Ahs.  Once a nest has been located, pest control operatives are called in to spray insecticide into the nest in the evening.  Nests are often high up in trees, which may require the use of a cherry picker lift, which can cost £250-500 to hire.  The nest is recovered and sent away for analysis to see whether it had reached the stage where next year’s queens had developed

    Asian hornet nests have been found in England in every year since 2016.  Up until this year, it has been 1-5 nests a year, all of which are believed to have been controlled before next year’s queens were produced.  2023 has been a wake-up call to the reality of the invasion of Britain by Ah.  It is likely that 2024 will see more queens getting across the English Channel by various means to add to any home-grown queens from this year’s nests.  We must be ready to set up monitor lures from early spring, when queens emerge, until the autumn (free supplies of bait are available from Michael Main and David Parker).  We must also spread the word about Ah so non beekeepers are able to recognise it and know what to do if they see one. 

    The free ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app is available to download from the Apple and Android app stores.

    Members of the public can also report sightings by email to with a photo or on the Non-native Species Secretariat website

    The Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat is a joint venture between Defra, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government to tackle the threat of invasive species. More information can be found on their  website

    Details on the appearance of an Asian hornet can be found on Bee Base guide or the non-native species identification guide.

Honey Show results for Weybridge members 


Surrey Honey Show, October 14th at Reigate Division’s Henfold Apiary 

VHC=Very Highly Commended, HC=Highly Commended, C=Commended 

Achievements by our members (in alphabetical order) were as follows: 2 

Claire Balla 

Interesting or instructive exhibit – 3rd 

Single jar of honey, Novice class – VHC 

Geoff Cooper 

Cut comb -1st and Colman Cup 

Marion Cooper 

Honey fruit cake – 1st 

Honey Biscuits – 2nd 

Lemon honey cake – ? VHC/HC – can’t remember 

Jane Hunter 

3 x 28g beeswax blocks – 1st 

Display of honey and beeswax products – 1st 

Honey biscuits – 1st 

Lemon honey cake – 2nd 

1 x 454g beeswax block – 2nd 

2 x candles – 2nd 

Honey Fruit cake – VHC 

National Honey Show, October 26th – 28th at Sandown Park 

VHC=Very Highly Commended, HC=Highly Commended, C=Commended 

Achievements by our members (in alphabetical order) were as follows: 

Claire Balla 

Class 89 Interesting or instructive exhibit – 3rd 

Geoff Cooper 

Class 89 Interesting or instructive exhibit – HC 

Class 235 1 jar light or medium honey gift – C 

Marion Cooper 

Class 94 Skep – HC (9 entries) 

Class 127 Honey sultana and cherry cake – 3rd (31 entries) 

Class 128 Date cake – 4th (27 entries) 

Class 130 Honey biscuits – 3rd (19 entries) 

Andrew Halstead 

Open Class 31 2 jars crystallised honey – 3rd (24 entries) 

Surrey classes: 

Class 224 2 jars crystallised honey – 3rd (6 entries) 

Class 225 2 jars liquid honey, any colour – 3rd (6 entries) 

Class 235 1 jar light or medium honey gift – HC (7 entries) 

Class 237 1 jar crystallised honey gift – 2nd (3 entries) 

Jane Hunter 

Class 129 Tray bake – HC 

Jonathan Kernan 

Class 111 2 jars medium honey – 4th 

David Parker 

Class 41 container cut comb – 2nd 

Class 160 2 containers cut comb – 2nd 

Class 223 2 jars dark honey (Surrey) -1st 

Class 224 2 jars crystallised honey (Surrey) -1st 

Class 227 2 containers cut comb (Surrey) – 1st 

Class 228 I frame suitable for extraction – VHC 3 

If any of the above results are incorrect or if any have been omitted – please accept my apologies and let me know, so that I can publish the corrections next month. 

Asian Hornet October Update 2023

I make no apology for mentioning this subject yet again. The threat is coming closer by the day, although I should mention that the NBU members who are actively working in Kent do not consider the situation to be all doom and gloom on this; they say it is partly the usual dramatic news-type reporting that is giving this impression. 

For this edition of the Newsletter I have been pleased to receive numerous contributions on this topic. Many of them obviously contain similar material so there is some replication – let this serve as emphasis! 

On 28th September we were all sent an email by Michael Main on behalf of our Asian Hornet Team (AHT). It contained the monthly SBKA Newsletter from Keith Mackie, Surrey BKA Asian Hornet Team Lead. Keith’s earlier reports have been reproduced in previous editions of our Newsletter. I would encourage everyone to look again at this email as it contains useful information sources but also outlines some suggested jobs that our members may be able to do. 

Up to 29th September the National Bee Unit has reported finding 60 Asian hornet nests in 47 locations. Two sightings and nests have been found only 19 miles (in a straight line) from our Weybridge Beekeepers’ area. 

These were found in Oxted, near Reigate. 

So the situation is now getting very serious for us as well as the rest of the southeast area. 

If you have not seen the NBU map of the nests found on the South Coast, do have a look; it can be viewed via the Asian Hornet App. The map is not always quite up to date, but the sightings are given several times a week. If it’s new to you, you will be rather shaken by the numbers of (found/destroyed) nests. 

We must do all that we can to delay the hornet from becoming established in our area for as long as possible. This means looking out for them, and making our friends, neighbours and others aware of this very serious threat to them (potential severe stings), and our bees as well as the rest of the insect population. The sting of an Asian Hornet in nearly 6mm long, about twice that of a wasp. 

I would also strongly suggest that you put one of our Asian Hornet information notices on your front door, or on the nearside rear window of your car (better still both places). If every beekeeper in the UK did this, it would assist the public awareness of the coming hornet almost beyond measure. 2 

Bait Stations 

I would encourage every one of you to put a bait station in a suitable place close to your house or office, where you can conveniently and regularly see if it has attracted any hornets. See below for details of a very simple bait station that is cheap and easy to set up. 

Record your Bait Station on the website 

When you start using a bait station, please record this in the Members’ Area of the Weybridge Beekeepers website by logging in, as usual, then going to the top, right corner, where you will see ‘Howdy’ and your name. Click on that, then on ‘Edit profile’. Under ‘Account management’ go to ‘Bees’ and record your bait station in the appropriate space there. Your site will appear as a green flag on the map and others as blue ones. Recording is important as it will make it possible to see areas currently without bait stations so that these can be provided. 

David Parker, WBK Webmaster 

Asian Hornet Bait Stations 

These are very simple devices using a honey jar containing a commercially produced syrup that is an attractant to the hornets (and wasps), but not bees. They are used to see if there are any hornets in the area. They are not intended to kill or trap the hornets. The idea is to place them in a convenient place where they can be watched regularly to see if any Hornets come to feed at the station. Have a camera handy. Once the hornets find the bait, they will return regularly, and so they can be photographed, and the NBU notified. There is virtually no chance of being stung at a bait station as the insects are too occupied with their work of feeding on the bait material to be bothered with humans when their nest is not under threat. 

A photo of one type of bait station using a takeaway food container was shown in the September newsletter, but a simpler one that uses less bait has been devised. You can either make your own (see Michael Main’s article below) or collect one ready made from him. He also has a supply of recommended bait syrup – please take a suitable empty bottle, e.g. a 1-litre drinks bottle. No charge will be made for either of these items as WBK are supplying them. 

Do spend a few minutes on this very important job of setting up the stations, and regularly looking at them daily; you may be the first to find a hornet in our area, and have the pleasure of knowing that you have been instrumental in postponing its establishment here for a year or even longer. 

Note from Andrew Halstead’s article below the great importance of finding nests before the new queens emerge from them at this time of the year. 

Geoff Cooper 

More on Bait Stations 

In Autumn when there are lots of insects flying it is best to use baited monitoring stations rather than traps to avoid killing hundreds of other insects as well as the hornets. These bait stations are easily made using a 1lb honey jar with a hole drilled in the lid; a hole that is half an inch / just over 1cm works well. The jar is filled with the syrup bait and a wick of a piece of J-cloth or kitchen paper is inserted through the hole into the bait. This enables the insects to take the bait from above the lid without drowning in the liquid. It also slows down the evaporation of the bait. See photos on the next page. The insects regularly return to the station and can easily be photographed. It is also wise to check in what direction they arrive from and leave to. It is best to spend 5-10 minutes in the morning and evening watching these stations as that is the time most foraging takes place. As mentioned above, bait is available from me and I also have a stock of lids that Geoff has drilled to use with 1lb honey jars; more can be prepared if needed. 

Michael Main

Asian hornet – urgent 

As the number of Asian hornet nests found so far in England far exceeds those of previous years, it is vital that beekeepers look for Asian hornets around their hives and in other places, such as on fallen ripe fruits and ivy flowers, that are likely to attract this insect. Prompt discovery and reporting will allow the nest(s) to be found and destroyed before next year’s queens are produced. 

A call to action, which is being shared with all Surrey divisions, is included in Keith Mackie’s October Newsletter, which has been sent to all members, as mentioned above. Please read it and take action. 

Note that the hornets shown feeding on the bait syrup at a wick lure trap in my garden (left) are European, not Asian hornets; on Geoff’s (right) there are only wasps. 

The ingredients of the bait are a trade secret but a company representative has said that it contains food grade materials. From the smell of the bait, I suspect that one of the ingredients is cider vinegar. The Surrey divisions have made a bulk purchase of this hornet attractant; details of how to obtain this are in Michael’s article, above. Surrey BKA are also looking into making a bulk purchase of traps – more information to follow. 

Andrew Halstead 

Asian Hornet traps – What traps should be used and when? 

In Spring when there are not many insects flying, but queens are coming out of hibernation, traps can be used. These can either be the home-made ones using a 2 litre drinks bottle, instructions on the BBKA website, or purchased ones, a stock of which we are hoping to have before the spring and which will be available at cost. They do need checking daily to release any non-hornet insects (the bycatch). 

In autumn, monitored bait stations are more appropriate than traps, as described above. 

Michael Main 

An important reminder regarding Asian Hornets 

Asian hornet nests, like those of the European hornet and other social wasps will die out in the autumn/early winter. Before that happens, the nests will produce next year’s queens and they get mated. These young queens will disperse from the nest and overwinter in various sheltered places. In early spring these queens will become active and will try to establish new nests. 

The strategy against Asian hornets is to detect their presence as soon as possible, so the Bee Inspectors locate the nest(s), which are then destroyed. This needs to happen before next year’s queens are produced, so there is a real need for urgency in this matter. 

Andrew Halstead 

Asian hornet likely to have become established in UK, say experts 

You can read this authoratative and sobering article on the link: 

Despite what is written here, we should maintain our efforts to locate and report findings in our area. By doing this we could well give ourselves a few more Hornet-free years.