Romsey and District Beekeepers' Association

Vespa velutina - the Asian Hornet

This insect is not native to the UK and is NOTIFIABLE which means that, by law, you must report any sighting to the appropriate authority (see below). It was accidentally introduced to the south of France in 2004 and has quickly established itself across Europe.
The first Asian hornet nest in the UK was found and destroyed in 2016. There have been isolated sightings most years since.
Asian hornet nests were first found in Hampshire in September 2018. The south coast is vulnerable because of cross-Channel traffic. Vigilence is absolutely essential because, once established, it is unlikely that we be able to eradicate this species.

It is an extremely aggressive predator; a colony of Asian hornets will decimate a colony of honey bees in a few hours and will predate many other insect species, affecting food sources for our native birds.
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.
Please note that European hornets (Vespa crabro) are native to UK and are not a threat to our pollinators.

Asian hornet - Vespa velutina
Image missing - Vespa velutina

The yellow-legged Asian hornet body is entirely dark and is velvet; the fourth abdominal segment is yellow and the legs are brown with yellow socks. The queen is up to 30 mm in length and is 7 mm wide
European hornet - Vespa crabro
Image missing - Vespa crabro

The European hornet 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
Reporting a Sighting
The Asian hornet watch app

The National Bee Unit's "Asian Hornet Watch" app is the most efficient method for reporting a potential sighting. You can download it for Android or iPhone. Alternatively, you can use the NNSS online sighting form preferably with a photo
Identification Aids

We recommend 2 excellent charts that will help distinguish between the Asian hornet and our native species:

  • The National Bee Unit Asian hornet ID sheet that details the differences between the 2 hornet species, and
  • BeeCraft magazine Asian hornet poster illustrating other species that are sometimes mistaken for the Asian hornet

Asian hornet traps

Asian hornet monitoring traps are designed to catch the Queen hornet and should be in place by February, filled with sweet bait - NOT HONEY. Once set, they should be inspected as often as possible - ideally daily - so place them where you will see them.
Take a clear sealable plastic bag such as a freezer bag with you each time you visit the trap, and 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. 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 your bag and seal it tightly, then place the bag containing the trap in a freezer and report your finding immediately (see above). Please go to the BBKA website for instructions to make a monitoring trap.