The Government is asking people to keep a lookout for the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina), an invasive, non-native species which can be a serious predator of honey bees. Although not yet recorded in Britain, this hornet is now widespread in France and Spain, having been accidentally introduced from its native south-east Asia, possibly in a consignment of pottery from China. It’s arrival in Britain in the future, either by flying across the Channel or with pottery or garden products, is very likely. People, especially beekeepers, are asked to be alert and report any sightings.
The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), in consultation with Defra and its Non-native Species Secretariat, has produced a response plan for the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) which aims to intercept and eradicate this species should it arrive in GB. The response plan can be found here (PDF 450KB).
A vital part of the response plan is the early detection of this species in order to allow rapid eradication before it becomes established. We are therefore alerting stakeholders to this issue so they can help us by reporting any Asian hornet sightings as soon as possible. Sightings should be reported by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning the National Bee Unit at Fera on 01904 462510.
Fera has produced ID sheets (PDF 1.4MB) and Alert Posters (PDF 1.2MB). Further advice and information on this species can be found on the BeeBase website and the Non Native Species Secretariat website.