Giant Asian hornets almost certain to arrive in UK this spring, public warned
Britain’s beleaguered bees have had a lot to contend with lately. Climate change, disease and modern pesticides have all conspired to make the country’s hardest workers’ lives more difficult than ever.
So, in a way, it’s a blessing that they can’t read this. It’s about to get a lot worse.
Asian giant hornets, bigger and more aggressive than the British variant, are poised for invasion just across the Channel.
The hornets, native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia, arrived in France accidentally in a commercial shipment some 10 to 12 years ago, and from that one small colony have spread to Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Belgium.
From there, the flow of European trade makes the arrival of a breeding colony of the mini-beasts in the UK more or less inevitable.
Camilla Keane, chair of the #Wildlife and Countryside Link’s group on invasive species, told the Daily Mail: “Like all invasive non-native species, once established the #Asian hornet would be incredibly difficult and hugely costly to tackle.
“Sadly many other invasive species already wreak havoc in our countryside, and new invasive non-native species are arriving each year, so the issue is not going away.”
#Beekeepers in Japan, from where the hornets originate, attempted to introduce European #honey bees to the country some years ago. The European honeybees had no natural defence against the hornets and were decimated by the larger insects, which kill and dismember the #bees in order to feed their larvae.
The charity Plantlife warned that the Asian hornet “poses a deadly threat to honeybees and other pollinators and any potential sightings should be immediately reported to the GB Non-native Species Secretariat”.
A report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services estimates that the worldwide decline of #bee populations poses a huge risk to world food supplies. Many food crops depend on bees for #pollination.
There’s a more immediate risk to humans from the hornets too. While deaths from the insects’ stings are rare and occur only in cases of allergy to the venom, five people in France died after being stung by Asian hornets last year.
The British Beekeepers’ Association has warned the public not to disturb a hornets’ nest under any circumstances.