This splendid specimen was on my shed door this morning, warming itself in the sun. So what has that got to do with Asian Hornets you may well ask.
If the weather is warm enough for butterflies to emerge then it is warm enough for Asian Hornet Queens to emerge.
For those who have not heard the Asian Hornet Queen will hibernate on her own and when it is warm enough then she will emerge and seek a sheltered location to build a nest such as the roof of your shed.
This nest will be the size of a golf ball.
In this nest she will lay eggs which she will then nurture and eventually a full colony could form.
Every queen we can trap in the spring could mean several hundred queens we do not have to trap next spring. So let us get trapping.
If you have a trap then use it. If not then the BBKA have instructions on how to make one.
For bait you could use a commercial bait but it is expensive and at the moment very difficult to get hold of. The Asian Hornet Queen is hungry and needs carbohydrate so some combination of fruit juice, dark beer and cider vinegar is a good choice.
Put your bait in the trap and wait. check the trap at least daily. We do not want to be killing European Hornets.
Remember each queen we catch this year could be 400 fewer nests next year.
It's Sunday and today is the Asian Hornet Workshop in Dorchester. Details are here.
One thing we were offering was samples of Trappit. For those not in the know this is what used to be known as Suterra. It is what we put into traps to attract Asian Hornets. It is not a killer - unless they drown in it. The purpose of Trappit is to attract Asian Hornets.
Unfortunately Trappit is in very short supply and thus we are unable to get hold of it at the moment. Instead I am giving you some recipes to try.
In the Spring the Asian Hornet is Queen is emerging from hibernation and is hungry. She needs carbohydrates and good mixtures are anything that smells and is sweet. Suggested mixtures include fruit juice, fermenting apples and dark beers. The French suggest adding some orange liqueur. Do not use honey as this will attract bees and is likely to spread disease. It is suggested that s significant amount of imported honey contains foulbrood bacatera.
In the summer the Asian Hornet nest could be growing rapidly and at that time the Asian Hornet is looking for sources of protein - and this is where the bait is less tasty to us!
The National Bee Unit use a bait of mashed fish with 25% water added. This needs to be changed every few days to avoid it become repellent rather than just offensive. Hopefully by the time we get to the summer there will be commercial attractants around which are nicer to work with.
There is a document on monitoring for Asian Hornet on the NBU website.
Sitting here with the rain drumming on the window it is difficult to think ahead to an active beekeeping season - but that is what we must do.
The first event which you need to know about is the Asian Hornet Workshop to be held at the Sunninghill Community Hall, Culliford Road in Dorchester. The event is on this Sunday the 18th February from 2:00pm to 5:00pm and includes:
Update on the Asian Hornet situation in the County from Mark White
Tea and Cakes
Talk by Pollenize on using AI for Asian Hornet detection.
There will be local and regional experts there with an opportunity for questions.
We were hoping to give out some Trappit but at the moment it is impossible to get hold of. There will be recipes for making your own.
Also next week we are starting the Beginners Course for aspiring beekeepers - or those just interested in beekeeping. Full details are avaialble on this web site.