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Yes, almost certainly it is still here in Dorset - the problem is we don't know where.

What we do know is that:

  • The NBU dealt with over 70 Asian Hornet nests in 2023
  • One nest of Asian Hornet can eat 12kg of flying insects.
  • The Asian Hornet is having a negative affecting on insect eating birds.
  • The best way to deal with Asian Hornets is to be plan ahead.

These are just some of the facts I have learned in the past month.

This is a good time to find out how we can prepare for the Asian Hornet invasion.

  • Asian Hornet Awareness Evening at the Colliton Club tonight the 29th November.

There will be a talk by Mark White on the latest developments with contributions from several members of Dorchester and Weymouth Beekeepers who were called to help with the two nests found on Portland.

  • 2nd South West Beekeepers Forum Asian Hornet Conference.
    • The list of speakers is on the web and is impressive including
      • Megan Seymour - from the NBU
      • Alistair Christie - from Jersey where they have loads of experience
      • Dr. Peter Kennedy - from Exeter University
      • Dr. Sandra Rojas Nossa- on the impact of Asian Hornet on biodiversity
      • Quentin Rome - on the impact of Asian Hornet in France
      • Bob Hogge - on the impact of Asian Hornet on beekeepers.
    • The conference is in Bridgwater TA6 6LQ
    • The cost to participate in the workshops is £10
    • The date of the event is the 6th January 2024
    • Full details are here.

Tickets are selling well and with just 300 places available I suggest booking early.

The Asian Hornet is here in Dorset as well as other parts of the UK.

Why does this matter? - The Asian Hornet can destroy a hive very quickly.

What do they do? - They hover, called hawking, outside the hive entrance. They will grab a honey bee near the hive. They rip of the wings and eat the body -a useful bag of protein.

How does this affect the hive? - Firstly the Asian Hornet is eating foraging bees. The colony soon becomes aware of this threat and they will not leave the hive. The result is the hive could starve.

But why target bees? - Well a honey bee is a social insect and a colony will have many thousand flying bees. Once an Asian Hornet finds a hive it has found a ready supply of food. Much easier to hawk outside a hive rather than go hunting for solitary bees or bumble bees.

What can we do to stop them? - Learn what an Asian Hornet looks like. Look for them if you are out walking. Some have been spotted by people dog walking and others whilst sitting in the garden.

How do I recognise one? - They are bigger than a wasp but smaller than a European Hornet. They have yellow legs, an orange face and a single yellow band across their abdomen.

And if I see one? - If you have a Smart phone then download the "Asian Hornet Watch App" for iPhone or Android from your usual app store. That has pictures of the Asian Hornet and other insects with which it can be confused.

What else can I do with the app?- If you can get a photo of it then the app can send that off along with your location and time you took the photo. If it confirmed as an Asian Hornet things will happen.

But I don't have a smart phone. Then there is an online reporting tool here.

What things will happen?- DEFRA will be alerted and they will send a team to track down the nest and destroy it. They then analyse the nest to see if it is an isolated nest or one of several in the area.

Is the Asian Hornet dangerous to humans? - Like many insects their aim is to survive and they only get aggressive if you are threatening them or their nest. They are bigger than bees or wasps so they carry more sting venom. If they are threatened they may group together and attack on you - beware.

What about the nests? - The nest looks like a wasp nest. If you do spot one then make a note of where it is and move away. Report it using the app and let professionals deal with it.

Any other tips? - I have been called out several times to suspected sightings. They often fly too fast to see clearly. Take a video of them flying then go through it frame at a time. That helps.

Can't we just ignore them? No. They will start by killing many of our honey bees and without local honey bees where will you be able to get pure local honey.

But I don't eat honey. - And Asian Hornets don't just eat bees. When they have eaten the bees they will start on other pollinating insects like butterflies - and without pollinating insects our fruit bowl will be a sad place.

Where can I find out more?- Beebase is useful as is the BBKA

Near the top of Snowdon showing the Pyg Track and the Miners' Track - and I did both.

This year has not gone quite as I anticipated - and hence the shortage of posts recently.

It started off well enough. I had two colonies which were not the strongest but I decided not to combine them and I expected them to get through the winter. Neither colony had produced enough honey for me to extract any so I left them with all of it. Both colonies got through the winter.

But it was not the success I was hoping for. In the Spring, before I could make a full inspection they left! I mean they left. When I came to check the hives both were empty - no bees dead or alive. This was clearly not a swarm - it was too early and anyway there was no way they were short of room.

It is not just in the apiary that things have not gone as planned. Instead of spending all my time in Dorset and further exploring the extensive network of footpaths in the county I am in North Wales. In fact I have just added up dates from my calendar and I have spent more time in North Wales than in Dorset this year.

Knowing this was likely to happen I decided to give practical beekeeping a break for this year until things settle down - which hopefully they will be September.

Anyway I have now found a place where I can access the Internet and I have the time to put more posts on the site so hopefully I will be able to update the site more frequently now. That is when I am not walking up Snowdon. After that anything I walk in Dorset should be a doddle!

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