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Asian hornet latest

A new book by UK scientist gives some of the latest findings about the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) in Europe. The Asian Hornet Handbook by Sarah Bunker

In a three-section book, Bunker discusses the biology, the spread of the hornet and control measures.

Since the Asian hornet was little studied in its native south-east Asia, in the early days of its arrival in Europe assumptions of  its biology were based largely on extrapolations from other types of more-studied hornet.

So, the biology section highlighting what has been found in Europe is of great interest. Here are a few little gems:

  • the foundresses (mated queens) may hibernate in groups of two or three in burrows, holes and crevices
  • when they emerge they feed on nectar or tree sap
  • the fast spread of the hornet (c 80 km each year) seems to happen after emergence — but whether in groups or singly and whether by flight or human transport is not yet known
  • primary and secondary nests have distinctively different structures — and sizes
  • what look like side entrances in secondary nests are half-finished bubbles or pockets that may be used to extend the nest
  • in France, nest density can be as high as 12 per square kilometre
  • in France, certain nest hotspots have been found where Asian hornets nest year after year
  • in France, the invader prefers urban areas
  • honey bees are a perfect diet for the Asian hornet — they are big, meaty and humans keep them in boxes in open areas that are easy to attack.

There is plenty more such information in the handbook to fascinate and perhaps terrify the beekeeper. It’s a good read!

Priced at £16.00, the 164-page book is available here.

Via Bee Health has supported the publishing of the handbook.

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