National and International News
Beekeepers urged to Stay Alert to Accurate Updates

There have been some sightings of AHAT nationally –  mainly in Kent ( including a single hornet caught in trap near Four Oaks some 3km from the nest discovered in 2023), and the North.  

It’s also worth noting that queens have been found even earlier than last year in Jersey.

There can be quite wild speculation across social media and tabloids – so we recommend all beekeepers stay alert to accurate updates from the NBU and BBKA.  It’s always worth keeping up to date by visiting the BBKA’s online Asian Hornet Incursion Map

There were several Asian “Yellow Legged” Hornet lectures at the BBKA Spring Convention and recordings are being made available  – we will circulate links to all as soon as we can.

Southern Water Joins the Fight

Southern Water employees have teamed up with community action group Asian Hornet Alert  to install selective traps to catch AH Queens around the company’s wastewater treatment sites in Kent and East Sussex.   

Asian Hornet Alert approached Southern Water last autumn.  The group realised the treatment sites – with water, trees and hedges (particularly brambles) – were the perfect places for Asian Hornets to build their nests.  

“Being able to team up with Southern Water for this pilot scheme means we will be able to monitor areas that the public would not normally have access to,” says Michelle Elliot, Volunteer for Asian Hornet Alert. “We are now entering the active season for Asian Hornets, and it is hoped that the

traps set up late last year will catch their queens. Each queen caught stops a nest being established, which if allowed to happen can result in the production of a further 300 queens for the following season.”  

Matt Wagstaff, Southern Water’s Environmental Advisor says: “Our Asian Hornet pilot scheme aims to help the Asian Hornet Alert group monitor more areas across nine sites in Kent and one in East Sussex. If the scheme proves to be successful, it has the potential to be rolled out to a wider area.” 

French Senate agrees “National Control Plan”

The French to English online news service, The Connection, has reported on a new bill passed by the French Senate to help in the country’s fight against Asian Hornets.  The bill aims to “organise the fight and prevention against this species” by means of a “national strategy implemented at departmental level”.  

A new ‘national control plan’ will be created which will include a committee comprising state officials, hornet experts and other scientists, as well as beekeepers (who will also receive compensation for the destruction of hives caused by Asian hornets).  In this way – with an increase in monitoring – local authorities will be able to locate, report, and destroy hornet nests with greater autonomy.   

AI takes on AH in Jersey

A team of biologists and data scientists have developed an AI system that they claim can accurately identify Asian Hornets as an aid to their eradication before they can gain a foothold. 

The system, VespAI, uses deep learning technology, a method of computation inspired by the human brain, to identify Asian hornets attracted to a bait station, capturing images and sending automated alerts to the beekeeper, landowner or government official using the system. 

 A team of scientists (Thomas A. O’Shea-Wheller, Andrew Corbett, Juliet L. Osborne, Mario Recker & Peter J. Kennedy) worked with the Jersey Asian Hornet Group and the island’s government to conduct field trails with prototype systems in areas where Asian Hornets, European Hornets and other insects were abundant.  

As reported in the journal Communications Biology, the team analysed thousands of images collected by the prototype systems, manually checking each one to ensure that the AI algorithm correctly identified all Asian Hornets without mistakenly identifying other insects as hornets.

So far, the results have been promising. VespAI correctly detects Asian hornets with more than 99% accuracy. 

The trials indicate that the system could transform ways in which Asian Hornets are managed in at-risk regions such as the UK.  Traditional baited traps can kill substantial numbers of native insects including many pollinators. They do little to meaningfully reduce hornet numbers, as colonies continue to survive unless the queen is destroyed.  By avoiding harm to visiting insects, VespAI provides a crucial advantage over trapping.  Asian Hornets detected by the system remain alive and can be tracked back to the nest – the only proven way to destroy colonies.

Further trials of the VespAI system will take place in the UK over the next few months, as we work with government authorities to bolster eradication efforts at this crucial juncture.

Outreach Officers Update

Zoom Meeting: Engaging with the Media

Kirsteen Thorne, BBKA’s Outreach Officer is hosting a zoom meeting to give advice and guidance for AHAT Teams on how to Engage with the Media and make the most of AH interviews. The meeting on Tuesday 30th April at 6.00pm will include:  

  • What makes a good story and how to pitch it
  • Differences between local and national media, and 
  • Interview tips and techniques.

To attend the meeting click this link: Engaging with the Media   In the event that the meeting exceeds the Zoom limit, it will also be streamed live on YouTube.  

For those are planning on contacting their local media, the BBKA website carries an AH Fact Sheet that provides the basics to (hopefully!) prevent any inaccuracies in reporting.  

Children’s Resources and Chelsea Flower Show

Kirsteen is working closely with Lottie Buckland, who sits on the BBKA Shows Committee. She has created some exceptional children’s activities to use at shows and other events.  

“A number of you had requested more of this kind of resource that could engage youngsters when at public events,” Kirsteen says. “Lottie has kindly agreed to share some of her work.  We’re aiming to get that put together in a downloadable file soon.”  

The Animal and Plant Health Agency APHA, have invited the BBKA to join them on their Asian Hornet awareness stand at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.  Kirsteen will be there on Thursday 23rd May.  Please do spread the word or come and say hello if you’re planning to be there.  

You can contact Kirsteen at

Budget Request Update

At its Quarterly Zoom Meeting on Tuesday 9th April the Committee of the Surrey Beekeepers Association took time to consider a renewed proposal from Surrey AHATs for funding for planned activities of AHAT Co-ordinators in 2024.  

Trustees and Chairs debated: the pros and cons of generating greater public awareness by joint working across the county, the possibilities of drawing down from the financial resources available to the SBKA; and the possibility of creating a ring-fenced account for AH Fundraising.  

The Committee decided not to create a co-funded package of support.  Rather, beyond the purchase of new bait once existing supplies run low, the Committee elected to allow each individual division to make its own decisions as to the extent of AH awareness expenditure and activity at each location.

The AHAT Co-ordinators thanked the chairs and trustees for their words of continued support.  They are grateful to Bob Maurer for the kind offer to purchase sets of pull up banners for divisions to have a fresh and visually impactful presence at Asian Hornet Roadshows across the county throughout the summer.

Surrey AHAT Co-ordinators are working on plans to hold roadshows at large public events across the county, so we have more eyes looking for AH and knowing how to report sightings.  If you are aware of a well-attended public event in your locality, please ensure your Co-ordinator also knows of it so we can spread ourselves across as many as possible.

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