Asian hornet (2020) – UK incursions

Managing incursions of Vespa velutina nigrithorax in the UK: an emerging threat to apiculture


© iStockphoto/Alberto Novo; Jean Haxaire

This study investigated the incursions and management of Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) in the United Kingdom between 2016-2019. In continental Europe, V.v. nigrithorax colonies threaten commercial honeybee populations through predation, to which European honeybees have no sufficient defence.

Throughout the study period, nine nests were recorded and destroyed to prevent establishment and harm to native species. Laboratory testing was undertaken to study V.v. nigrithorax’s developmental stages inside the hive and the genetic diversity of the nests. When the nine nests were studied, seven were primary nests with varying stages of brood development. Two nests were secondary hives with a brood present; the broods were tested and linked to a primary nest. Out of seven queens; four queens had each mated with a single drone; two queens had each mated with two drones and one queen had mated with three drones.

Genetic relatedness in V.v. nigrithorax was greater in the UK sites, compared to France. It was concluded that the arrival of V.v. nigrithorax was through separate introduction events each year and it was unlikely that there was a UK breeding population in the study years. Continued rapid responses to sightings are necessary to prevent establishment.

Jones, E.P., Conyers, C., Tomkies, V., Semmence, N., Fouracre, D., Wakefield, M. and Stainton, K. (2020). Managing incursions of Vespa velutina nigrithorax in the UK: an emerging threat to apiculture. Scientific Reports, 10(1). 

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Invasive Species Ireland

Invasive Species Ireland