The predatory Asian hornet was sighted in Gloucestershire last week.
The Asian hornet is extremely bad news for our native bee, which is already in decline, by posing a threat to colonies in a rather grisly way – the decapitation of individual bees as they leave the hive. Once all the bees are dead, the hornets enter the hive and take the honey. A handful of hornets can destroy a nest in just a couple of hours.
The species arrived in France in 2004 in a shipment of pottery from China and then spread rapidly. They are now common across Europe, and the concern has been that they could spread to the UK through imports of potted plants.
DEFRA has confirmed last week’s sighting in Gloucestershire and The National Bee Unit is conducting DNA tests on the hornet in an attempt to discover how it arrived in the UK.
It is hoped that the species will be unable to survive the colder winters in the north of the UK and, because the arrival of the Asian hornet has been anticipated for some years, a protocol is already in place to try to eradicate them and control any potential spread throughout the rest of the UK.
Sightings of the Asian hornet can now be reported using this form: http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet