Asian Hornet Update May 2024

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.

Sussex University is asking people to join a bee hotel experiment

This experiment involves the setting up of ‘Bee Hotels’ and measuring the number of bees that they attract…

…The University of Sussex’s professor Dave Goulson who is leading on the project said, “This is a fun project suitable for anyone including children who have access to an outside space and an interest in encouraging wildlife. If we can get hundreds of volunteers to take part, we will be able to work out how to make bee hotels more effective and so help support our pollinators. Please join us.”…

Full details here:

Shrill carder bee

This bumble bee (Bombus sylvarum), once common in the UK, is now found in only a few pockets as intensive farming destroys wildflower habitats.

Having been asked for some more details on this, Andrew Halstead sent the following:

Like most of the rare and declining UK bumblebee spp., the shrill carder bumblebee, often found in coastal areas, needs flower-rich meadows, so is not specifically coastal. Flower rich meadows on farmland have mostly been ploughed up and resown with rye grass, or they are cut more frequently for silage instead of hay. See for information about this bee and its UK distribution.

We are fortunate to have in our Division the mine of entomological information that is Andrew.

Book review Varroa Managment

Varroa Management, a practical guide on how to manage varroa mites in honey bee colonies, 

by Kirsty Stainton

137 pages £16.  Published by Northern bee Books

I can hear you saying, “Not yet another book on this topic”, but in my opinion this one is rather special. It is beautifully written in simple but comprehensive terms. It begins with a summary of what we all need to know about varroa and its effects on bee colonies. Then it goes on to stress the damage caused by viruses, for which varroa is a vector, for example Deformed Wing Virus, and how varroa spreads viruses through colonies. The book then describes how the number of mites in a colony can be estimated, and what levels should be considered serious enough for action to be taken to reduce the numbers to acceptable levels. In this respect it is interesting that Kirsty’s recent research indicates that a natural mite drop of less than 10 mites a day does not require treatment, a much higher figure than the 2 per day originally recommended by the NBU at least 30 years ago.  The miticides familiar to us are described in some detail, and their effectiveness is given in terms of the percentage kill of the mites.

So what is so special about this book? It brings together in simple language all of the essential knowledge regarding varroa that we have ‘picked-up’ over the last 30 or so years, together with most of the commercial miticide products which are available, with very helpful comments on which to use and when to use them.  It covers both currently approved insecticides, organic acids and some so-called essential oils.

How many times have we been asked to advise a new beekeeper what to use when treating for varroa? This is not a question for which it is very easy to give a short, swift, accurate, and appropriate answer. I think that this fine book is an ideal answer to questions of this sort. I would describe it as a ‘must buy’ for all new beekeepers, and it would not be out of place on the bookshelf of any experienced beekeeper as a very useful reference book on the topic.

So, at least, have a look in it!

With all the current emphasis on the Asian hornet, we mustn’t forget Varroa!

Dr Kirsty Stainton has worked in many areas of bee research and related subjects. She works as Technical Manager for the National Bee Unit, has performed research for the NBU on invasive pests, Asian Hornet, Small Hive Beetle and honey bee viruses before moving into science communication. 

Geoff Cooper

Asian Hornet Update National News

Boost to Online Resources

The British Beekeeping Association has substantially re-organised its Asian Hornet website pages to provide easy access to a collection of resources to assist Associations in engaging their local community to help prevent the establishment of the Asian Hornet in the UK. 

The pages which can be accessed here – BBKA A H Resources – collect a wide range of materials including: draft press releases and templates for letters; posters and ID sheets, PowerPoint and safety guidance for the public as well as photographs images and videos and other items created by local Associations. 

The BBKA has also updated its pages of Resources for AH Teams uploading a number of new documents specifically aimed at AH Teams including: 

*Asian Hornet Risk Assessment
*Protocol for Spring Trapping of AH Queens
*Protocol for Asian Hornet Monitoring Traps
*BBKA Insurance FAQs

The pages include other useful items such as guidance leaflets on AH Monitoring & Trapping and an instruction pamphlet detailing a Method of Tracking the hornets developed in Jersey. A version of this method is used by the NBU to find and destroy Asian hornet nests. 

The National Bee Unit has also updated its Asian Hornet Monitoring Factsheet to include information on a small selection of commercially available selective traps that can be used for spring monitoring and guidance on setting up monitoring stations for summer monitoring. 

County News – Green Is Good

Surrey AHATs have welcomed the three zone – red, amber and green – traffic-light system adopted by the NBU and BBKA to indicate of AH incursion to an area and the subsequent use of selective mesh traps and bait stations to reduce the impact of trapping on native insects. The March edition of BeeCraft carries an article on the traffic light system, and the reasoning behind the use of selective traps and trapping by Dr Sarah Bunker, author of The Asian Hornet Handbook. Bait stations have important role in monitoring to find hornets, she notes, observing that more and more traps are becoming available. But, beekeepers “need to be aware of the consequences of bycatch and take great care to avoid harming native insects”. 

Surrey AHATs are relieved that the majority of the County remains in the Green Zone as the nests found in Oxted in 2023 remain the only AH incursion in the locale. 

Call for more AH Verifiers

AHATs still need more local beekeepers to step forward as Verifiers to help in the campaign against the Asian Hornet incursion in the UK. 

It’s a key role in each area. Co-ordinators are first point of contact when there is a reported AH sighting (liaising with government agencies and co-ordinating the activities of the Verifiers). But it is the Verifiers that help confirm the potential AH presence – and, where necessary, assisting both agencies and the Co-ordinator in monitoring and trapping. 

Many hands make light work, and Surrey Divisions still need volunteers to form a local Verifier network covering their geographical footprint. 

“The need for Verifiers is huge”, says Surrey County Co-ordinator, Helen Worwood. “Our County urgently requires more beekeepers to come forward to help fill the team vacancies – some Divisions have a way to go. 

“We are encouraging all BKA members who may be interested in helping in the fight against this pest to get in touch with their divisional Co-ordinator for a non-committal chat.” 

Surrey’s AHAT Co-ordinators are: 

Helen Worwood (Epsom) 
Croydon: Anna Slade Epsom: John Futcher 
Farnham: Julie Trice Guildford: Jonathan Brookhouse 
Kingston: Avis Marshall Reigate: Keith Mackie 
Weybridge: Andrew Halstead Wimbledon: Gareth Morgan 

Members can contact the above by clicking on the blue pins on the BBKA’s online AHAT Map, which enables the public to search for local Coordinators, who are each represented by a blue pin with contact telephone details. 

After recently taking Epsom Members on a walk-through of the BBKA’s Asian Hornet Training Exercise (a publicly available education and public awareness tool), John Futcher, the Epsom’s AH Co-ordinator, is encouraging the Association’s beekeeping and non-beekeeping members to spread the word to family and friends and to contact him if they are interested in becoming Verifiers. Email him at:

Surrey AHAT Budget Request

On Tuesday 12th March, the Trustees of Surrey Beekeepers Association held a special Committee Meeting on Zoom to review the request for funding for planned activities of AH Co-ordinators in 2024. 

The Committee received a written paper and heard a presentation by Helen Woodward and Jonathan Brookhouse. The proposed budget covered two major workstreams: Communications & Awareness Raising and Monitoring for Presence of Asian Hornet. 

A long and detailed discussion followed. The Committee applauded the work of the AHAT team and acknowledged the need for both the streams of work identified in the budget request. Consideration was given to the role of BBKA in delivering a national strategy and 

gaining greater understanding of he extent of existing resources in Surrey – including assessing the amount of AH bait remaining from recent monitoring; how best to employ local Associations’ gazebos, pop ups and banners; and the logistics of centralised buying and distribution. 

Trustees expressed concern about the long-term impact of ring-fencing an AH budget on SBKA’s central funds. With a request for more information on AH bait supplies and more detail on certain planned activities, the meeting closed with no firm decision. 

Work continues in this space. 

Surrey AH Co-ordinators are currently working on plans to hold roadshows at large public events across the county with the aim to generate more eyes looking for AH and knowing how to report sightings. If you are aware of a popular large public event in your locality, please ensure your AH Co-ordinator also knows of it so the AH Team can look to attend as many as possible. 

Refresh Your Knowledge

We continue to strongly encourage all members to watch out for the regular bulletins from February’s Asian Hornet Conference

By keeping up to date and well informed the better we can inform others and adapt our beekeeping practices to fight off AH incursions. 

Why did my bees die in winter? 

Claire Balla has reported that there are many people on various forums all asking the same thing, so she has asked for someone to write a short note in response to the above question. I hope that she gets plenty of response to this. Here are a few ideas of my own. I think it would be very useful if other members would send in their experience of winter losses, and any ideas of why they occurred. 

If you have losses, use your hive records, and memory, to try to determine why they have occurred. 

My own suggestions for avoiding hive losses in winter (not in any particular order): 

  • By the end of September assess the stores and, if necessary, top them up so that there are sufficient stores in the hive to last until the following March or April. (40lb total of honey or 50:50 honey/sugar) for a full-size colony..I see no need for feeding during the winter. 
  • Stores should be checked from early March, especially if the temperatures indicate that brood rearing may be starting in earnest. Remember that this is the month when colonies are most likely to starve out, because food stores are being used up rapidly to provide the energy needed for brood rearing. 
  • Make a habit of hefting the hives during the winter period. You will soon get the dangerous ‘light’ feel of a colony in danger of starvation. 
  • Give a thorough inspection of the colony before ‘putting it to bed’ for the winter. Is there a laying queen? Is there a sign of disease? Are there enough new bees for winter? Are there enough bees to keep warm? If the colony looks to be too small, wrap it with insulation at least an inch thick. (I have successfully run colonies through winter, starting with only a single frame of brood). Check the varroa levels (this should have been done in the summer at Varroa treatment times); have you treated for varroa during the year (strictly to the manufacturer’s instructions)? 
  • Two small colonies can be placed side by side, touching each other, the pair then being shrouded with a waterproof sheet, or better still thermal insulation; they will then keep each other warmer than if standing alone. 
  • I think that good beekeeping practices throughout the year will help to avoid winter losses. Currently, there is a lot of emphasis given to avoiding stressing the bees, and I feel that this will probably help them to survive winter. 
  • Keep an eye open for hive damage during the winter, for example leaking hives, and be sure to take the trouble to visit out apiaries for this purpose. 

Andrew Halstead has drawn our attention to the Beebase website, where there is a helpful video called ”A hive autopsy – common causes of winter losses”

Geoff Cooper 

Over a quarter of bees from Flemish beekeepers did not survive winter

2024 Asian Hornet Conference 

The BBKA’s held its 2024 Asian Hornet Conference on Saturday 17th February. Beekeepers from around the country logged in on Zoom to attend. They heard presentations from Nigel Semmence, who provided the latest information from the National Bee Unit on AH and measures being taken. There was a report from Alastair Christie on the AH experience in Jersey and what BBKA could learn from it; and a fascinating update from beekeeper, Jackie Aucott, on the recent experiences and monitoring practices “at the sharp end” in Kent. 

Martin Smith, eR2 Project Manager, described the process of communication 

between AH Coordinators and Verifiers and outlined changes to the way the postholders will be presented within our membership database (ER2) and AH Map (see item below). And Kirsteen Thorn, BBKA’s newly- appointed Outreach Officer, introduced herself and talked about the way she was going to go about her new role. 

Kirsteen Thorn 

Among the key items to take away from the event were: 

  • There is no clear scientific evidence for an established UK population. 
  • The Government have agreed that we are still in the eradication stage of dealing with any incursion. 
  • The day before the meeting, 3 sites (ESE Kent, SW Kent and Yarn in Yorkshire) were agreed to have thorough spring monitoring implemented up to 5km, as agreed to be highest risk sites for any overwintering queens 
  • The public facing maps on BBKA Website are being updated to display the contact details of AH Coordinators only (see item below). It is hoped this encourages more members to agree to be Verifiers as they should no longer be required to field calls directly from the public. 
  • Analysis of DNA and “relatedness” of 2023 nests should be available at the BBKA Spring Convention. 

“We are encouraged that there is no evidence of a UK established population of Asian hornets, says Surrey County AH Co-ordinator, Helen Worwood. “That does not however mean we can fully relax. There is plenty to do to ensure we are as well prepared as we can be for being called to act.” 

“We are aware that members with bees in the South-East of our county feel more vulnerable to incursions from Kent, and those with borders to the North feel vulnerable to any drifting down from M2 corridor area. Therefore, we are supporting Croydon BKA in their “spring trapping light” approach.” 

Please Note: 

If you were unable to attend the live presentation, you can watch the recording by clicking here. The meeting was in 45 – 60-minute sections so you don’t have to watch it all at once! 

BBKA Updates AH Co-ordinators and Verifiers roles 

The BBKA have recently made some changes to the way in which Asian Hornet Co-ordinators and Verifiers are recorded within our membership database (ER2) and AH Map. 

A dramatic rise the number of verifiers (as a result of the significant increase in AH sightings in 2023) led to a cluttered AH Map. This confusing picture, coupled with issues relating to data protection, meant the old methods were no longer fit for purpose. 

Going forward, only Co-ordinators will appear on the public facing AH Map. They will be represented by a blue pin. The details of Verifiers will no longer be visible to the public. The BBKA has also clarified the roles of coordinator and verifier. 

An AH Co-ordinator’s role is to: 

  • Act as a public point of contact in the local area when a reported sighting of AH is made. 
  • Pass the reported sighting onto one of their team of local verifiers. 
  • Be the local point of contact between government agencies and local verifiers in the case of a confirmed sighting; and to 
  • Report back the results of their investigations. 

Having expressed an interest in assisting locally in the investigation of reported sightings of an AH, Verifiers are required to: 

  • Be prepared to provide such assistance in trapping or monitoring as the local AH Co-ordinator may deem necessary. 
  • Provide any assistance that the NBU may request. Such requests will be arranged through the local AH Coordinator. 

Verifiers no longer need to take the BBKA’s Asian Hornet Training Exercise to gain the insurance cover (as this is now automatically in place for Registered, Partner or Honorary members (but not ‘local’ members). 

AH Update to Standard Insurance 

The BBKA has amended its Standard Insurance to ensure that members are covered for work they might do as part of an Asian Hornet Team. As with the insurance generally, this 11 

covers officers and members who are Registered, Partner or Honorary members. It does not cover “local only” members. 

Beekeepers should only be involved in tracking activities directed by the NBU and will not be insured if they are practically involved in Asian Hornet nest destruction, this will be undertaken by specialist Pest Controllers appointed by the NBU. Beekeepers involved in tracking hornets or searching for hornet nests in order to protect their bees are NOT insured if: 

  • Climbing ladders, trees or scaling buildings above the height specified in their BBKA policy concerning swarm collection. 
  • Trespassing or entering areas without the landowner’s permission. 
  • Involved in trapping and releasing Asian Hornets (as this is an illegal activity). 

Members of the public have NO insurance through the BBKA unless participating in beekeeping activities with BBKA members. 

  1. County Updates 

Surrey AHAT Budget Request 

The Surrey Asian Hornet Action Team has submitted a funding proposal to the Committee of the Surrey Beekeepers Association. The AHAT proposal outlines the issues and current position and requests monies be set aside for its planned activities in 2024 to eradicate and prevent the establishment of the Asian Hornet across Surrey. 

The activities fall within two major workstreams: 

  • Communications and Awareness raising in the general public 
  • Monitoring for presence of Asian Hornet. 

Depending on how 2024 unfolds, the budget proposal notes that the funds requested may not all be required or used this year but represents the team’s best guestimate of what is needed to raise public awareness and to establish a basic defence strategy to protect the County. 

A request for a special meeting of the SBKA Committee has been made and it is hoped to make an announcement of any decisions shortly. 

Calling for Co-ordinators and Verifiers 

It is vital that all beekeepers are able to identify Asian Hornets. The BBKA has asked every Association to assemble a team of members acting as Co-ordinators and Verifiers to help with local requests for help in identifying Asian Hornets. It is vital that each BKA team establishes good networking so that the nearest team member can answer a call about a potential siting and call for back up if necessary. 

“We welcome the new clarity in roles between Co-ordinators and Verifiers and the developments behind the scenes ensuring the public have someone to reach out to if they do see a suspicious looking insect,” Surrey County Co-ordinator, Helen Worwood says. 12 

“We would like to get to a position of having 3 co-ordinators per division. Some divisions are there already – but some have a way to go. Please read the role outline and get in touch with your divisional Co-ordinator if you are interested and would like a non-committal chat before volunteering.” 

Surrey’s AHAT Co-ordinators 



  • Helen Worwood (Epsom) 


  • Croydon = Anna Slade 
  • Epsom = John Futcher 
  • Farnham = Julie Trice 
  • Guildford = Jonathan Brookhouse 
  • Kingston = Avis Marshall 
  • Reigate = Keith Mackie 
  • Weybridge = Andrew Halstead 
  • Wimbledon = Gareth Morgan 

You can contact the above by clicking on the blue pins on the BBKA’s Online AHAT Map


At the BBKA’s Asian Hornet Conference Jackie Aucott, AH Co-ordinator for Dover & District BKA outlined the way in which the AHAT teams in the area have set up a simple but effective AH monitoring process covering a 300km2 from Hythe to Deal. (Click here to see her presentation), 

The team has worked with both beekeepers and non-beekeeping members from a number of Associations in neighbouring areas 

The approach divides the monitoring area into 1km2 packets using simple techniques based on the Ordinance Survey App, taped-up OS Maps, a Sellotape ring – and a roaming volunteer who single handedly set and monitored more than 50 traps across the region to fill the gaps! 13 

There were 52 AH nests cleared in Kent – 35 in the DDBKA area alone – including 10 nest which probably would have been missed if the approach had not been taken. 

Surrey AHATS who have watched the presentation have recognised the value of the approach to monitoring outlined by Jackie. 

“We realised in our monitoring exercise last year how much overlap there was in our divisional membership areas,” says Helen Worwood. “A small working party are going to gather with some maps and membership lists to see if we can prepare a 1km2 grid plan for monitoring. So that we are ready for any alert that comes in across Surrey this summer.” 

Any Cartophiles out there? Helen would love to hear from you to join this working party. Email her at: 

  1. Local Update – Epsom 

Epsom Members attending February’s Club Meeting were treated to a discussion led by John Futcher, Epsom AH Co-ordinator, on the Asian Hornet and the latest updates on the work being done to monitor and contain its spread. 

John also took Members in a walk-through of the BBKA’s Asian Hornet Training Exercise. (The training exercise is publicly available as an education and public awareness tool – so members were encouraged to spread the word to family and friends.) 

John is calling out to both beekeeping and non-beekeeping members to contact him if they are interested in becoming Epsom Verifiers assisting him locally in the investigation of reported sightings of an Asian Hornet. Email him at: 

Asian hornets – heading into 2024 

Thanks to everyone who put out monitoring stations last year – they should have been taken in by the middle of November, by which time any queens put out by mature nests were mated and hibernating ready for the next spring, most within 200m of the nest. (We need to start monitoring again in February. Please contact Michael Main or David Parker for the bait.) 

Asian hornets are adaptable and hardy. The queens are expected to start to emerge to search for food and initiate embryo/primary nests when the temperature gets to at least 13 degrees for 3 consecutive days. This gets them out and about before our native vespas and gives us a great window to start trapping with a much-reduced chance of by-catch, but as we head into the warmer times in late February to March, the risk of by-catch increases and must be planned for. 

In Surrey we do not recommend trapping this spring. Until AH nests have been found in our vicinity, and confirmed as such by DEFRA or the NBU, the chances of catching an AH queen is approaching zero and the risks to native hornets, wasps and pollinator species are not worth taking. The nearest nests to us were found in Oxted, but this is in a Kent BKA area and they are taking advice from DEFRA/NBU. 

Once we are in the situation that spring trapping becomes a necessity, maybe even as soon as later this month, it is recommended that we follow the extremely successful path that Jersey has taken by placing baited traps, with escape holes for smaller species, at regular intervals across areas likely to be in the vicinity of hibernating queens, and to check these traps daily to release by-catch. Uncontrolled trapping may have a significant detrimental impact on local biodiversity – just the situation we are trying to prevent by controlling the spread of Asian hornets. This year’s BBKA Asian Hornet Conference is taking place online on the 17th February. During the day there will be a briefing from DEFRA/FERA regarding the incursions last year, which should, we hope, give some clarity on whether we have established colonies of AHs in England. There will also be some direction regarding policy and planning for the 2024 season and where the BBKA fits in. With our first credible AH sighting of a lone hornet having happened on the 24th January near Hastings, it does concentrate the mind, and we should all be turning our thoughts to how we can prepare for the season ahead. 

Julie Trice, Farnham 

National Updates from DEFRA 

Last year ended with a total of 78 confirmed Asian Hornet nests in 56 locations. In the main, nests were clustered in the Southeast of England – especially in Kent. The nest nearest to Surrey was found in Oxted. It was destroyed at the beginning of September. 

Live data from the National Bee Unit (NBU) can be found on this link: Asian Hornet Map. (Just tick the year you wish to view; the map generally opens with confirmed sightings from 2022.) 

Lone AH Sighting in Hastings 

On 19th January DEFRA reported a credible sighting of a lone Asian Hornet in Hastings, (confirmed 24th January)

An Inspector from the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s (APHA) National Bee Unit responded to a call from a member of the public who made the discovery in the footwell of their car. 

Despite searching the area, we have been unable to locate a sample. Hastings is a relatively small but busy port, so it could be: 

a) An AH hitchhiker from a boat from Europe. 

b) An overwintered queen wasp or 

c) A European hornet. 

We are waiting for confirmation. Although it was not expected to find AH flying this early in the year, local volunteer AHATs have been alerted to monitor their local area of Hastings for AHs. 

BBKA AH Updates 

BBKA appoints AH Outreach Officer 

The BBKA has announced it has appointed Kirsteen Thorne as its first Outreach Officer for Asian Hornet. Kirsteen previously worked as a journalist, presenter and radio producer for BBC Radio Norfolk and the regional BBC ‘Look East’ programme. 

Initially, Kirsteen will be focused on raising the profile of the threat of AH and implementing the BBKA outreach plan to engage with a wide variety of target audiences and organisations. She will also help identify and develop the resources needed by the BBKA’s associations to support their local awareness campaigns. Kirsteen can be contacted at:

NB: The BBKA has held its first Asian Hornet Committee meeting and agreed its next actions. The Committee is Chaired by Luke Whyatt, a newly elected BBKA Trustee. 

BBKA Asian Hornet Conference 2024 

The BBKA has released more information on this year’s Asian Hornet Conference. The event will be held on Zoom, from 10am to 12.30pm, on Saturday 17th February

The following talks and speakers have been confirmed: 

• “An Update From the NBU.” 

Nigel Semmence, the NBU’s Contingency Planning and Science Officer, will report on the latest information on AH and measures being taken. 

Nigel gave a National Honey Show lecture in October 2023, which is available to watch on the National Honey Show YouTube Channel: National Honey Show UK Videos

• An Update on Jersey and what BBKA could learn from the Jersey Experience.” 

Alastair Christie, Invasive Species Officer at the Environment Department in the Government of Jersey will give a talk on the ways in which the “hornet landscape” has changed on the island and how techniques for controlling them have evolved and been refined 

In post as Jersey’s Asian Hornet Coordinator since 2019, Alastair has built up considerable experience of the AH. In 2023, Jersey’s teams found a record 339 nests – up from 174 in 2022. His talk will bring us up to date on what happened in 2023 in Jersey, and lessons learnt. 

The BBKA will post more details about the Conference on its website here

BBKA AH Briefings 

You can still catch up on the series of Special Briefings by Andrew Durham by clicking on the following

YouTube links: 

Part 1: About the Asian Hornet (2023) 

Part 2: What can we do? (2023

Part 3: Special Briefing for Beekeepers (Update for 2024) 

Surrey Division Updates 

The Monitoring plan we put in place in late September has now ended. With daily temperatures regularly dipping below 12°C, there really is little chance of Asian Hornets still flying

However, now the leaves are dropping there is still the chance of nests being spotted – so please do continue to use the Asian hornet Watch app to report suspicious nests. 

We are working on a proposal for countywide monitoring to be taken to the committee of Surrey BKA for discussion and agreement in early February. 

Please continue to encourage everyone you know to download the “Asian Hornet Watch” app and become familiar with what Asian Hornets look like. 

The App is free to download for Android via Google Play or iOS via Apple Store. 

What else can BKA Members do? Well considering the lone AH that was sighted in Hastings, why not check your vegetables arriving from around the World! 

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.