Beekeepers urged to be on lookout for Asian hornets

Beekeepers, gardeners and the general public are being asked by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to be on the lookout for a hornet that kills our insects including honeybees.

Beekeepers, gardeners and the general public are being asked by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to be on the lookout for a hornet that kills our insects including honeybees.

With sightings of the yellow-legged hornet, also known as the Asian hornet, confirmed in the south of England in 2016 and Jersey this year, in both instances a rapid response protocol was followed with nests and hornets destroyed. Action needs to be taken now to prevent its establishment in Northern Ireland.

Rose Muir of Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s (NIEA) Alien Invasive Species Team, said further sightings in Britain and first reports in Ireland are possible: “We are asking everyone, but especially beekeepers and gardeners, to be on the lookout for the hornet. Early detection and destruction of nests is essential if eradication is to be achieved.”

Forest Service Bee Health Inspector, Tom Williamson added: “Beekeepers should inspect each apiary observing the entrance of the hives and the surrounding flora to check for possible hornet activity. We can also help sentinel apiary operators to use traps to monitor for the hornet,” he explained.

Never disturb or try to deal with a suspect Asian hornet nest but report it immediately. Suspect sightings and photos of Asian hornets should be reported to NIEA via the Asian Hornet Watch app(external link opens in a new window / tab) – or via CEDaR online recording(external link opens in a new window / tab).

Tom also encouraged beekeepers to register their apiary with DAERA.

Download the Beekeeper registration form

“It is important in the event that Asian hornet or any other exotic threat to honeybees arrives, that we are able to quickly locate vulnerable apiaries.”

To help you recognise the Asian hornet and distinguish it from other similar insects visit the National Bee Unit, the Asian Hornet Watch app itself or the Invasive Species Ireland website(external link opens in a new window / tab).

Notes to editors:

  1. The images must be credited as; Images Courtesy of Dr Marco Porporato – LIFE STOPVESPA Project
  2. Within the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, the NIEA has responsibility for Invasive Alien Species (IAS) and the Forest Service Bee Health Unit responsibility for Bee Health.
  3. Vespa velutina, the Asian hornet, is an invasive non-native species originating in Asia. In the UK the first known hornet’s nest was found and destroyed in 2016 and it is expected there may be findings in the UK and Ireland as the hornet becomes more established in continental Europe. The hornet preys on honeybees and other beneficial species and, once established, can affect the role of honeybees and beekeeping activities as well as posing a threat to native ecosystems.
  4. The ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app is available to download from the Apple app and Android app stores
  5. Details on the appearance of an Asian hornet can be found on the Bee Base guide(external link opens in a new window / tab) or the non-native species identification guide(external link opens in a new window / tab).
  6. Follow us on Twitter(external link opens in a new window / tab).
  7. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DAERA Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.
Invasive Species Ireland

Invasive Species Ireland