Romsey and District Beekeepers' Association

Vespa Velutina - the Asian Hornet

This insect is not native to the UK and is NOTIFIABLE (*). It was accidentally introduced to the south of France in 2004 and has quickly worked its way up towards The Channel.
The first Asian hornet nest in the UK was found and destroyed in 2016, since when there have been isolated incidents.

The first Asian hornet nests in Hampshire were found in September 2018 along with nests in other parts of the UK. Other Asian hornet nests are likely, and vigilence is absolutely essential. Once established, this species will be very hard to eradicate.

It is an extremely aggressive predator and a colony of Asian hornets will decimate a colony of honeybees in a few hours. A single queen will establish a colony early in spring and will raise thousands of worker hornets and hundreds of young queens, which will come through winter and start their own colonies.

(*) 'Notifiable' means that, by law, you must report any sighting to the appropriate authority. In this instance, it is the Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) - see below.

Unlike Asian hornets, European hornets are native to UK and are not a threat to our pollinators. The two species can be differentiated quite easily -
Vespa velutina
Asian Hornet
The body is entirely dark and is velvet; the fourth abdominal segment is yellow
The legs are brown with yellow socks
The queen is up to 30 mm in length and is 7 mm wide
Vespa crabro
European Hornet
The abdomen is mostly yellow and orange
The legs have no yellow colouration
The queen is up to 35 mm in length and 8 mm wide - larger than the Asian hornet

You can use the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) map to contact your local "Asian Hornet Action Team" (AHAT) for help with positive identification.
Reporting a Sighting
To notify the Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) you can:
Hornet Traps
A hornet trap
HORNET TRAPS are being posted at apiaries across Hampshire and elsewhere.
The traps are designed to catch the Queen hornet and should be in place by February and filled with sweet bait - NOT HONEY. Once set, they should be inspected as often as possible - ideally daily. Take a clear sealable plastic bag such as a freezer bag with you each time you visit the trap. Never remove the lid without first inspecting the contents of the capture chamber.
If you are completely certain there are no Asian hornets in the chamber, then open the lid to release the entire catch (see the description of Asian hornet on this information sheet .
It is important that any non-target insects caught in the trap are released as soon as possible, without harm. If you suspect that you may have caught an Asian hornet, place the whole trap into the freezer bag and seal it tightly, place the bag containing the trap into a domestic freezer. Notify the Non Native Species Secretariat immediately (see above).