As the first reports of the arrival of the Asian hornet in Britain hit the news this week, genuine concerns are being voiced about what it could mean for our already dwindling bee population the UK.
However, the experts are saying that as long as residents continue to support campaigns and initiatives to support the local bee colonies, London bees are some of the strongest in the country and should be able to survive this new threat.
Asian Hornets London Pest Control
Asian hornets arrived in France in 2004 and have since spread across large parts of the rest of Europe. It is surprising that it has taken them over a decade to reach the shores of the UK. However, with more and more reports coming in, Asian hornets are most definitely here. So, let’s learn more about them:
- up to 3cm in length with a wingspan of up to 7.5cm
- arrived in Europe on a container from China carrying pottery
- preys almost exclusively on honeybees
- active from April to November and solely fly during the day
- black/brown with yellow stripes and a yellow/orange face
- nest in tall tress and holes in the ground, as well as in sheds, garages and attics
Although the Asian hornet can administer an extremely painful sting with some risk of allergic reaction to the venom, the real concern to many in the UK is that it preys almost exclusively on honeybees.
London Bees can Survive
Despite the concerns, Dr Clint Perry from the Queen Mary University of London’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, believes that London bees are now high enough in number to survive, due to all the recent efforts from official campaigns and conservation drives, as well as the changing attitudes of the general public in London. Unusually, bees in the capital are, in fact, thriving.
Despite being a highly built-up city, London has a large amount of green space, some large and some as small as just a patch of grass in a backyard. Nevertheless, there are some 2500 apiaries in London parks, in back gardens, on roof terraces, on balconies.
Fortnum and Mason installed beehives on the roof of their famous luxury London department store, giving homes to over 200,000 bees. Following a huge success in selling their homemade honey, they now have hives across London, with each ‘city’ honey tasting of different plants, depending on their location.
The Queen Mary University of London also rolled out a project earlier in the year where they tagged 500 bees and set them free over London, with the aim of tracking how successful all the efforts into increasing the bee population are proving to be. Londoners have been sending in pictures to show that ‘number 32’ had visited their balcony!
Read our earlier article London Bees with Personalised License Plates or go to London Pollinator Project for more information on this.
Asian Hornets vs UK Bees
Whilst it is incredibly positive that London bees are set to put up a good fight against the Asian hornet, it remains a serious cause for concern that we now have another threat in the UK to add to the existing long list of dangers to the all important honeybee.
Pest controllers are urging anyone who sees an Asian hornet, whether it’s a single one or a nest, to report it straight away. The more that can be eradicated while numbers are low, the more chance we have of keeping them at bay and letting more bee populations thrive like in London.
Author: This article was written by Dean Mannion, Senior Pest Control Technician for Top Dog Pest Control who provide London hornet control services.