Colony of Asian hornets found in Jersey prompts fears it could decimate UK’s native bee population

 

A new colony of Asian Hornets has been found in the Channel Islands – fuelling fears for the UK’s native bee population.

The invasive insect has reappeared on Jersey less than a year after they were first spotted on nearby Alderney.

A colony – believed to have contained 6,000 insects – was discovered last week in a shed in Fliquet on Jersey and quickly exterminated by beekeepers.

But experts now face a race against time to control the spreading of the Asian Hornets amid fears that secondary nests may have already been established.

Just one hornet can eat up to 50 bees A DAY and their impact on honey production could be extreme.

The Alderney sighting last June was the first official sighting of the insect in the British Isles.

A colony was destroyed in the northern Channel Island and there were two more confirmed sightings in Jersey in 2016.

By September the insects had reached the UK where they were spotted in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Two months later in November the government announced that the outbreak had been safely contained.

Dr Tim du Feu, president of the Jersey Bee Keepers Association, said the next four weeks will now be crucial in trying to control the pest and avoiding an invasion of the mainland for the second year running.

He said: “This is the time when the queen, having established a primary nest [such as the one found at Fliquet], starts going out to establish secondary nests.

“This is the first one we have found in Jersey and it was a reasonably big one.”

Dr du Feu said he was tending to hives in the area with fellow beekeeper Ken Healy when they got the call about the nest.

He added: “We put a clear plastic bag around the nest and cut it down from the roof and we put a second bag over it so the hornets were trapped in the bags.

“Then we had to swat the individual hornets that were coming into the shed.

“I then froze the nest by putting it in a freezer and that killed them. The important thing was that we got the queen.”

Asian hornets – the Latin name is Vespa velutina – have spread rapidly throughout France since arriving in Europe in a shipment of pot plants from China in 2004.

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