Hornet hunters: the crack squad keeping an invasive species at bay on Jersey 

‘A retired police detective (John De Carteret) and a band of volunteers are all that’s stopping the Asian hornet, a voracious predator of flying insects, from spreading across the island to mainland Britain’… Read more about this work https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jun/19/jersey-hornet-hunters-guarding-against-invasion-uk-aoe?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other 

An immense amount of vital work is being carried out by John and his helpers. It is considered that the government should be playing a major role, instead of leaving it all to a dedicated volunteer. 

Thank you, Peter Webb, for this information, which I imagine is new to many. After all, this hornet will have profound effects on our honeybees and our beekeeping when it becomes established in the UK. 

Asian Hornets found in Dover, Ashford (Kent) and Canterbury 

The following item is from Keith Mackie, Surrey BKA Asian Hornet Team Lead (Interim) | Reigate BKA AHT Officer / Coordinator 

Asian Hornet update (July-23) 

Numbers of AH are high in Europe this year, although the following measurements are not all comparable, Belgium had 130+ queens last year, but has had 2500+ this year. Holland had a few reported in previous years, but now over 250+ sites. Portugal no longer reports as they have too many. Jersey had 450+ queens at over 50% in traps placed close to France, that is nine times more than last year. Unfortunately, Belgium stopped killing nests last year as they had no government funding. 

If you didn’t see it here is an interesting article published in the Guardian on 19-June-23, called “Hornet hunters: the crack squad keeping an invasive species at bay on Jersey”, an interesting and informative piece. Read it here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jun/19/jersey-hornet-hunters-guarding-against-invasion-uk-aoe?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other 

At the time of writing, two Queen Asian Hornets, (AH) have been confirmed in Ashford and Canterbury, furthermore all Queens have been transported in cauliflower to the UK, as the known transmission method. 

This week the BBKA confirmed the following information from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA): 

Please be aware https://www.nationalbeeunit.com/ was updated yesterday. 

On Thursday 22nd June a small primary nest of Asian hornets was reported to the NBU. A National Bee Unit Inspector investigated the report and collected samples which have been sent for analysis by scientists. Traps have been set for hornets returning to the nest site, and follow up activities will take place to raise awareness. 

This is the earliest date in the season that a nest has ever been found in Great Britain. Nests have previously been reported in the autumn, when insects are more visible as the population of the nest increases to its maximum. 

Please report sightings of Vespa velutina using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app for iPhone and Android, or the online reporting form. 


The full article is available here: https://www.nationalbeeunit.com/about-us/beekeeping-news/asian-hornet-nest-destruction-near-dover-kent/ 

Keith Mackie 

Last month we reminded everyone to be vigilant for AH and what was needed if an AH was observed. Since writing that article, middle of last month, there have been numerous sightings particularly at-risk points such as ports, through imported goods and areas where nests have occurred previously. 

Some of these sightings are still under investigation by the National Bee Unit (NBU) and local AH Teams (AHT). However, we have provided below hyperlinks of information on sightings and in the media, the final conclusions are still awaited from NBU, at time of writing.

13-April-23: NBU confirmed an AH sighting in Folkstone, Kent. BBKA has advised these photos are believed to be the basis of the confirmed AH sighting in Folkestone. 

18-April-23: NBU contacted the BBKA with this information…Please can BBKA AHT around Poole be made aware of an ‘unconfirmed sighting’ of an AH. The NBU received a credible triaged report on 17th April. The report included the clear photo shown below of an Asian hornet on the deck of a Ferry from Poole to Cherbourg taken on 10th April 2023. The reporter noticed the unusual insect, so took photos and reported. 

05-April-23: An AH was discovered inside a cauliflower on Wednesday 5th April. NBU received a credible triaged report of an AH discovered inside a cauliflower within a weekly vegetable delivery in Northumberland, approximately 20 miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne. The NBU responded to the report and a bee inspector collected the hornet later the same day for analysis. This was a single AH incursion and follow up activities will take place to raise risk awareness with the producer/distributor/seller. The cauliflower was produced in France. Link

What is an AH – Primary Nests?

It is important not only to be able to recognise the AH but also to be able to recognise the primary nest of the species, at this time of year (April-May). 

Credit: Richard Noel, https://youtube.com/@richardnoel3141 

This looks very similar to a wasp nest and starts off about the size of a tennis ball and grows throughout the spring/summer. It may be found be in garages, sheds, woodstores and sides of building etc. 

If you have found something similar – please wait the return of the AH then See it, Snap it, Send it by reporting it to www.bit.ly/asianhornetreport or using the Asian Hornet Watch App, available for free download from Android via Google Play, or iOS via iTunes. 

How can BKA members help? 

Surrey BKA, needs an effective Asian Hornet Team (AHT) comprised of local BKA divisional members. This hyperlink shows a BBKA AHT Map of team members, gaps exist in geographical coverage. Can you help? 

The main aim of an AHT is when a sighting is made (rare across the UK) then action is taken to report through the AH Watch App or links, rather than act; allowing the NBU to take over the assessments. 

The BBKA has recommended associations to have fifteen members available (as the AHT) when called upon, in essence formed of six local BKA divisional members. All members are volunteers, that are willing to be available if an AH sighting was made in Surrey or on its boarders. 

If you are willing to become one of our local AHT members, then please visit the following hyperlink

The hyperlink advises on the role, along with qualification as an AHT member via the online exercise, as a means of increasing your identification ability and assistance to members of the public in any sighting, following up on leads, personnel safety, etc. 

All BBKA members are welcome to take the AHT quiz/exercise as a means of increasing their awareness of the Asian Hornet characteristics and our behaviour to a sighting. 

On passing, please advise your BKA AHT Coordinator / Lead, along with confirmation that you wish to be publicly listed on the BBKA AHAT Map (flagged on eR2 system; that you are a qualified AHT member, with training completed and so insured by BBKA). 

All photos included in this article are accredited to BBKA (www.bbka.org.uk) unless noted otherwise 

More information: 






Kindest regards 

Keith Mackie, 

Surrey BKA Asian Hornet Team Coordinator (Interim), & Reigate BKA AHT Lead 

High Trees, 26 London Road South, Merstham, Surrey, RH1 3DT 


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