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: helenworwood@ntlworld.com 

  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: john.futcher@btopenworld.com 

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: outreach.officer@bbka.org.uk

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 (bbka.org.uk)] 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 (nationalbeeunit.com)
  • 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 (nationalbeeunit.com 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 (google.com)] 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 alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk 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 http://www.nonnativespecies.org/home/index.cfm

    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: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/sep/04/asian-hornet-likely-become-established-uk-say-experts 

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. 

Asian Hornets September 2023

This from the BBKA: 

A leaflet called ‘How to Track Yellow-Legged Asian Hornets (Vespa velutina) has been produced by Sarah Bunker for the BBKA. BBKA trustees hope you find this leaflet useful. It can be downloaded from: https://www.bbka.org.uk/asian-hornet-resources 

This will work with European hornets, if you want to practice. Asian Hornet Week is 4th – 10th September 2023. We have two live talks during the week (6th and 7th) with Andrew Durham (see top of p. 2) and some pre-recorded talks are available on the BBKA’s YouTube Channel from Monday 4th. Andrew Durham’s talks will also be recorded and made available at a later date. 

We hope you have all downloaded the Asian hornet watch app and are sharing information about identification and reporting of Asian hornets across all your social media including any local Facebook groups. AH team members in Kent have found this productive. Don’t forget you can order Asian hornet leaflets and postcards to be sent to you from the NBU : https://www.nationalbeeunit.com/resources-for-beekeepers/leaflets-guides-and-videos/advisory-leaflets2/ 

Email your request to nnss@apha.gov.uk but remember to give them your postal address and state how many of each you want. 

Other resources are available on the BBKA website including posters, banners and information sheets for you to download: https://www.bbka.org.uk/asian-hornet-resources 

Kind regards 

Diane Drinkwater, BBKA Chair 

Asian hornet – urgent 

The number of Asian hornet nests found so far in England far exceeds those of previous years. So far, none has been reported in Surrey but some have been close to the border. 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. 

Jonathan Brookhouse (Guildford division) has produced the following Call to Action (see next item), which is being shared with all Surrey divisions. Please read it and take action. 

As the Asian Hornet has now come so close to our area (London SE28) Surrey BKA is considering purchasing bulk supplies of bait and traps to distribute free to its members to ensure we get thorough monitoring of our area. As a result, it would be very useful to know how many of our members would take up the offer. If you would be prepared to take a trap and bait, please send a note to michaelfmain@hotmail.com by the 10th September. 

Andrew Halstead and Michael Main, who attended the Surrey Asian Hornet Team meeting. 

Asian Hornet Team Call to Action 

To date, mid-August 2023, the NBU report that there have been 32 nests found in 27 locations here in the UK. 

These nests have been found only because specific credible sightings of hornets were reported to the NBU. 

This is now serious. There have been more confirmed sightings this year than all the previous sightings together since 2016. 

It goes without saying that if so, many have already been found, there must be others that have not yet been seen. 

This aggressive invasive species is a top predator, there is no natural control if it gets a foothold in the UK. 

As you are aware, they have colonised the whole of France, and in the last few years they are moving into Belgium, Spain, Portugal and are beginning to move into Italy. 

The key danger to our bees is twofold, 

Firstly, they are easy prey for Hornets who seek out beehives. Once they have found an apiary, they hawk outside the colonies, picking off returning forager bees one by one. 

If you don’t have traps out already, you can make a simple monitoring one out of a jar with an 8-10mm hole in the lid and a jay cloth or sponge poking through acting as a wick (see photo below).

Fruit juice with extra sugar added can be used as a bait, but commercially prepared bait has extra attractants added to make it extra tasty to Vespa species. 

You can follow the rolling update of the NBU’s Asian Hornet activity on BeeBase here

Report any sightings direct via the Asian Hornet Watch App which you can download for free to your phone. 

Without your help, it won’t happen. 

With thanks, the Asian Hornet Team. 

A simple monitoring station 

A simple monitoring station, described by Gordon Bull, a Seasonal Bee Inspector with the NBU can be seen in the photo below. 

It is reproduced from this link: https://aphascience.blog.gov.uk/2021/09/08/asian-hornet-week-hunt-for-asian-hornets/ The link also gives access to more information about Asian Hornets. 

The photo shows two marked Asian Hornets feeding in a monitoring station made simply with a takeaway tray with kitchen towel soaked in a fruit juice bait with extra sugar. Three large pebbles stop the monitoring station blowing away. Because the insects are feeding, they are not aggressive, enabling photos to be taken. If you choose to monitor insects using this type of bait station, keep the lid nearby and if you notice a suspicious insect, you can quickly trap the insect by sealing the lid and look at the insect more closely. Do take care though, as they can sting! 

A new leaflet showing how to create a range of simple monitoring devices is available under ‘factsheets’ on Beebase, the NBU’s official website. (Note that the two hornets in the picture are Asian Hornets as shown by the single yellow/orange band near the rear of its abdomen. – Ed.) 

As mentioned, in Andrew and Michael’s article (p. 3), we are hoping to have both traps and bait available to us soon. This is part of a bulk order that Epsom Division are kindly offering to distribute to other SBKA Divisions. 

Asian Hornet

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 


Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus 

Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus – Zoom Meeting, 31st July 

This meeting was a presentation about the virus in general, and our local experiences of it. David Parker, who set up the slide presentation, introduced the topic, giving useful background information, followed by Marion Cooper, who described two occurrences of the disease in hers and Geoff’s apiaries. WBK responded to the request in the June BBKA News for assistance with research that Professor Giles Budge is doing on this virus at Newcastle University. Marion described the methods used in the research in which contact between older infected bees and younger ones was reduced. Michael Main presented the results on the colonies used in our Teaching Apiary as part of this project. 

We were joined by some members from Guildford and Kingston Divisions as well as by Roger Patterson, a well-known Sussex beekeeper, and Giles Budge. Valuable contributions were made by both of these guests and we were particularly grateful to Giles for giving us the benefit of his ongoing research as he answered questions at the end of the evening. 

Andrew Halstead recorded the presentation so that it is available for those unable to attend. 

It can be viewed via this link: 

It is also live now in the Members Area of our WBK website, under Presentations and Training Videos on YouTube 

I should like to thank those who responded to the request to let us know if their bees are affected this year. Reports have been received from three more areas within our Division, but these areas are not adjacent to each other or to those already reported, so the infection seems widespread, although thankfully not very prevalent so far. Keep looking out for the classic signs: 

  • • Large numbers of dead bees on hive floors and/or outside the hive 
  • • Bees struggling to walk and appearing to tremble 
  • • Bees with their wings held out sideways, away from their bodies 
  • • Bees that have lost the hairs on their bodies and appear black, and oily/greasy 

If found, please let Marion Cooper know as she is keeping a record of cases; 


There are two pieces of good news locally about CBPV: 

1. The infected bees seem to be recovering slowly, although sadly depleted. 

2. We are pleased that the infected Apiary at the Teaching Apiary is now involved with the research project being run by Prof Giles Budge at Newcastle University. Most of the data collection is kindly being done by Michael Main, with help from others as required. 

Marion Cooper 

A request for spare beekeeping equipment to help start a School Bee Club

I have been beekeeping now for almost 5 years and have thoroughly enjoyed learning a new hobby and discovering new things about our fascinating fuzzy friends! In this time, I have been lucky enough to be part of this wonderful division, that is always kind, helpful and specific when talking to beginner beekeepers. This has led to my increased confidence in many aspects of keeping bees, from swarm management to harvesting my very own crop of honey! Therefore, I thought I might try to share my new passion and spread my new knowledge a bit further!

For the record, by day I am a teacher in a primary school and thought what a fantastic idea it would be to take bees to the school and even try and set up a club. I do think this will be a challenge for me, but after reviewing the school’s section on the BBKA website I feel like I would like to make a go of it!

The aim would be to give the children an opportunity they would not normally get to do. In my 10 years of teaching, I have never come across a school that has kept bees. I am sure some of our members may know some schools who keep bees but I sense that this type of club is much less common than your usual extracurricular activities.

The school itself is situated in area that has a diverse profile of pupils so it would be hugely beneficial for them to have a chance at an activity that is not normally on offer. Another obvious benefit, that we all know well, is the opportunity for the children to really take notice and appreciate all the wonderful plants and animals (great and small!) nature has to offer! Appreciating nature is a common thread that starts right at the beginning of the Early Years Framework right the way through the Key Stages. Therefore, the club will enrich the curriculum offer that is already provided.

I am aiming to start the club this year – after the Easter break. Therefore, I am looking for some donations to be able to start a beekeeping club at my primary school. I wondered if anyone had any spare equipment that they do not want to use any more that we could have to get the children started. I am currently looking for:

X2 hives
X6 children’s bee suits
X2 smokers
Enough hive tools for 6 children.
Anything else you think would be useful!
As mentioned earlier I am using the BBKA documents as a guide but am more than happy to receive feedback on things you think will be important to mention.

Thank you very much for spending the time reading my message and I hope everyone has a fantastic new season!

Ollie Dean olideangod5@hotmail.com

Best wishes, Ollie, for your project.
A number of schools do run activities with bees, the nearest one that I know is Burhill School in Hersham, where some of our members have, in the past, worked with the children on beekeeping. Perhaps some of them would like to contact Ollie.

BBKA Spring Convention 21-23 April at Harper Adams University

If you are a student beekeeper or a new beekeeper, (long practicing beekeepers will be well aware of this event) and intend to take your beekeeping seriously, you would do well to attend this annual event. There is a very comprehensive trade fair with equipment of every type at a range of prices. Equally important is the large number of lectures on a very wide range of beekeeping topics, at various levels from beginner to current university research work. If you are not able to go this year, bear it in mind for another as it is an annual event.

The key date for members to know about is that Bookings open on 30th January.

Full details of this year’s Convention will be found on the Spring Convention pages of the BBKA website:  www.bbka.org.uk