‘Killer’ hornets put Wolds bees under threat

Fred Parker with a poster warning of the threat of  the Asian hornet to Lincolnshire Wolds bees.
Fred Parker with a poster warning of the threat of the Asian hornet to Lincolnshire Wolds bees.

Beekeepers across the region are on high alert for a threat to the UK’s bees - and Market Rasen’s Celia Smith is one of them.

Mrs Smith is Vice Chairman and Education Officer for the Market Rasen District of the Lincolnshire Beekeeping Association.

She is warning beekeepers and members of the public to be on the look-out for the Asian hornet.

According to Mrs Smith, the hornets have been making their way up through France andhave ‘devastated bee colonies’.

She said it is ‘not a case of if, but when’ the Asian hornet strikes in this country.

However, special traps have been developed to help trap queen hornets, who are establishing their nests at this time of year.

She added: “We can’t know until the season begins how large the threat from the hornets will be.

“Around this sort of time, the queen hornets will be waking from hibernation and looking for nesting sites.

“So now is a good time of year to spot them.

“Unlike European hornets, they’re mostly black with one yellow band around them.

“They’re not just a threat to honeybees, but all pollinating insects.”

Fred Parker, chairman of Horncastle Beekeeping Club, is also concerned about the Asian hornet.

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

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

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

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

Both Mrs Smith and Mr Parker are warning people not to approach the Asian invader.

Mrs Smith said: “They have a very nasty sting - so don’t attempt to touch them.

“If you can, take a picture and report it to a local beekeeper.”

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