Beekeepers are warned about ‘killer’ hornets

Bee-d all about it: Fred Parker with a poster warning about the threat of  the Asian hornet to bees  in the Lincolnshire Wolds
Bee-d all about it: Fred Parker with a poster warning about the threat of the Asian hornet to bees in the Lincolnshire Wolds

Fred Parker is a worried man.

The 77-year-old is chairman of Horncastle Beekeeping Club. He’s been keeping bees since the age of nine.

However, he is concerned the local bee population could be under threat - from a ‘nasty’ invader from the Far East.

Mr Parker is warning beekeepers to be on their guard against the Asian Hornet.

If a group of hornets gets into a hive, they can wipe out the entire population of between 55-60,000 bees in an hour.

Mr Parker said: “These hornets are nasty - they are real killers.

“They’ve reached Germany and France and caused all kinds of problems.

“With the right wind, they could easily fly across the channel this year and we’d be in right trouble if that happens.

“So far, we’ve been lucky. One of them was spotted on Prince Charles’s Highgrove Estate last year and that’s set alarm bells ringing.”

With his vast experience, Mr Parker is recognised as one of the country’s leading experts on beekeeping.

He added: “Beekeepers up and down the country are very worried.

“These Asian hornets are bigger than the British ones and they can even attack and eat a bee when it is in flight.

“They like to nest in trees - about 20 feet up. Their nests look like a wasps’ nest.”

Mr Parker is warning people not to approach the Asian invader.

He added: “They have a dangerous sting. If anyone is attacked by a group of them, they could kill you.

“There are reports their sting goes right through a beekeeper’s protective suit.

“If you are in doubt, don’t go near them. I’ve been stung countless times but I would stay well clear of these Asian hornets.”

Mr Parker has 11 hives - including one in Horncastle town centre - and several on the Scrivelsby Estate.

He says his bee colonies could be wiped out by the hornets.

Mr Parker revealed beekeeping in the Wolds is flourishing - proving to be more popular than ever.

He said: “The Horncastle club has more than 50 members. We’ve just started a beginners’ course and that’s attracted 22 new people. Two of those are juniors, so it’s something that is going to carry on.”

○Mr Parker says that anyone who spots an Asian hornet should contact a special hotline at alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk