ApiShield defence against the Asian hornet
Following a sighting of an Asian hornet and the discovery of a nest in Devon, England, this week, British beekeepers are being urged to be on the alert for the invasive and destructive insect. ApiShield, an easily fitted and low-maintenance trap from Vita Bee Health, not only protects honey bee colonies from Asian hornet attack, but it also acts as an early warning of the Asian hornet’s arrival in an area.
The Asian hornet is native to China but arrived in a pottery consignment in Bordeaux, France in 2004. Since then the Asian hornets have spread at about 75 km per year across Europe, killing off many honey bee colonies and other native insect pollinators which have no defences to cope with the new predator.
ApiShield, Vita’s patented Asian hornet trap, has been rigorously tested in France and Greece and fools hornets and wasps attacking honey bee colonies into using unguarded underfloor ‘entrances’ not used by the colony’s honey bees. Beekeepers simply inspect the trapped dead and dying predators and look particularly for the Asian hornet.
Dr Max Watkins of Vita Bee Health explains: “Honey bees fiercely try to defend the front entrance of their hives, but the decoy side entrances appear to honeybee predators, such as the Asian hornet, as an easy unprotected way of raiding and decimating the colony. But they become trapped beneath a wire mesh floor and eventually die of dehydration. The colony’s bees don’t use these decoy side entrances because they have become habituated to use the front entrances where they are welcomed by their sisters.”
Although designed specifically to trap the Asian hornet, field trials have proved it to be very effective in catching other honeybee pests and predators including wasps, wax moth, and even robber bees that look for easy ways to raid a hive.
ApiShields replace existing floors in the autumn and can be easily installed in a very few minutes.
Vita encourages beekeepers, in North Devon especially, to install ApiShields to discover the extent of the current invasion. One ApiShield on one of the less strong colonies in an apiary will act as a good early warning sentinel. ApiShield should be treated with a suitable bee-friendly timber preservative before use.
Last year, an invasion appears to have been stopped by the destruction of an Asian hornet nest near Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Vita donated some ApiShield traps to local beekeepers and as yet there have been no further sightings.
About Vita Bee Health
Vita Bee Health is a mite control and honeybee health specialist. It is the world’s largest dedicated supplier of honeybee health products to the honey and pollination industries. With a rigorous and ethical approach to research and development into honeybee health, Vita has no commercial interests in crop pesticides or crop breeding that may be harmful to honeybees.
Vita researches, develops, and manufactures a range of honeybee health products. Its headquarters are in the UK, it has offices in Italy, France and Russia, and partners across the globe. These products are marketed internationally through a network of 60 distributors in 50 countries.
Vita’s honeybee health product range includes anti-varroa acaricides – Apistan® (outside the USA/Canada) and Apiguard® – chalkbrood and wax moth controls, foulbrood diagnostic kits and health-promoting feeds. Vita also supplies Asian hornet traps, Small Hive Beetle traps, a Bee Gym varroa grooming aid and swarm lures. Vita products have been registered by more than 60 veterinary authorities.
Vita promotes sustainable beekeeping through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Its treatments are designed to inhibit the build-up of resistance and wherever possible contain natural compounds and biological controls that are benign to all but the target pests.
Vita invests a very high proportion of its turnover in research and development. Research partners include universities such as Thessaloniki, Cardiff, Milan, Udine and Naples and institutes such as the FERA Laboratories in the UK and the USDA in America. Vita’s innovative research and development work has been recognised by and has received support from the UK Government.
As a result of its primary research of natural control agents, Vita is currently engaged in new projects exploring mite control in the agriculture, veterinary, and horticulture industries as well as public health and human allergen control.