Asian Hornet Teams

The Role of BBKA Associations and Beekeepers concerning Asian Hornets

The BBKA is asking every Association to select a team of members to assist with local requests for help in identifying Asian Hornets. It is vital that all beekeepers are able to identify Asian Hornets.

Each branch or group can establish their own team so that individuals will not be asked to travel vast distances. They should establish a good communication network between each other, so that the nearest team member can answer a call about a potential siting and call for back up if necessary.  The team will work with a co-ordinator to help identify the hornets. The co-ordinator must be recorded as an Officer on the eR2 membership database.  The map below shows all Asian Hornet Co-ordinators.

What do the Teams do?

  • Form a communication network of people confident in identifying  Asian Hornet
  • Know how to report a suspected hornet
  • Distribute identifying literature and inform individuals, businesses, markets, gardeners etc
  • Know how to set up open bait stations and advise the public about monitoring them (from a distance) if they are in suitable places such as a garden
  • Provide contact numbers so that hornets can be reported
  • Establish monitoring traps in their area or when directed by bee inspector.

Each team should be organised with contact numbers and a team leader who can be contacted by an Area Association Coordinator. (This will facilitate easier dissemination of information).

Associations should encourage their members to register on BeeBase and to ensure that their contact and apiary details are kept up to date. If an email address is included this will ensure individuals can receive alerts from the NBU when Asian Hornets are sighted in their area.

So, you think you've seen an Asian hornet?

Every year the Non-native Species Secretariat and the National Bee Unit receive many reports of suspected Asian hornets. Many of these reports do not come with any means to identify them, other than a written description. However, without a photograph or sample, it is not possible to be sure of the identification of a sighting. This page will help outline some of the ways in which you can go about obtaining a sample so that we can better identify what you have seen. If you are unsure about what type of insect you have seen, you should make an effort to photograph the hornet and report it as outlined below.

It is vital that in the spring, when Asian hornet foundresses are on the wing and sighted by someone, they are not allowed to escape. Please familiarise yourself with what the Asian hornet, and common misidentified insects, look like and to help you the Asian hornet fact sheet in English and Welsh can be downloaded. If you spot one, please make every effort to try and capture/ kill it to prevent it from flying off. and then notify as outlined below.

How do I catch Asian Hornets?

Great care should be taken when trying to obtain an Asian hornet specimen. Please ensure that you wear appropriate personal protective equipment (such as a bee suit) where appropriate or carry out the procedures as safely as possible.

Catch an Asian hornet using an insect/ entomological net or children’s fishing net

When using a butterfly or children’s fishing net to catch an Asian hornet it is best to approach the hornet from underneath with the net and make a large upward sweeping motion and finally slamming the opening of the net facing toward the ground so that the hornet cannot escape. You can then kill the hornet safely by placing it in a container and freezing it or by standing on it.

Catch an Asian hornet using a tennis racket or electric fly swatter

Tennis rackets and electric fly swatters can be used to knock down or temporarily stun Asian hornet to the ground. You will need to give the Asian hornet a fair whack to bring it to the ground and daze it. Tennis rackets and electric fly swatters will not kill the hornet and therefore it will need to be killed by some other means. The safest way is to stand on it and then put it in a container and freeze it overnight.

Photograph the predating/ foraging Asian hornet

Photographs can be used as evidence to record your sighting of Asian hornets. Images should be clear and in focus so that whoever is charged with identification of the image can do so easily. Images taken from a distance, where Asian hornet features and colouration cannot be seen clearly are not helpful. Photographs should then be reported, using the email address outlined in the ‘What do I do once I have caught an Asian hornet?’ section. If the photograph is deemed positive, the National Bee Unit will contact you to arrange a visit to the location by a Bee Inspector.

Trap an Asian hornet sample

You can hang out monitoring traps as a surveillance measure for detecting the presence of the Asian hornet in your garden.  It is important that we do not trap our native and beneficial insects so monitoring traps that will not kill the insects have been designed. To make one please see these leaflets:

What do I do once I have caught an Asian hornet?

Once you have caught an Asian hornet it should be killed by either standing on it or by placing it in a freezer for 24 hours. Once dead, sightings along with photographic evidence and location details should be sent in via the links below:

You can also email to report an Asian hornet sighting.  Please send a photograph and location details.

The sample should be retained and kept in the freezer as it may be required later.

Where do I send samples and what qualifies as a sample?

In the first instance, a photo of the sample you have caught should be sent to the alert non-native email. If we require the sample later on, either a Seasonal Bee Inspector will come and collect it or it can be sent to the National Bee Unit laboratory. When sending in samples, please use a breathable (e.g. cardboard), securely packaged and sturdy container. Provide as much detail as possible about the sample, where it was found and contact details for yourself should we need to get further information and send the sample to:

NBU laboratory, Lab 02G06, York Biotech Campus, Sand Hutton, York, YO41 1LZ

Get Involved!

Everyone can play a part in keeping an eye out for Asian hornets – no experience is required!

It is a testament to the general public that most of the Asian hornets found on mainland UK since 2016 have been spotted by people going about their daily lives.

How can you help?

When the queen Asian hornets come out of hibernation around March/April they will be looking for high-sugar food sources. The queens can fly very long distances to set up and build their nests. In order to do this they have to feed up on nectar (carbohydrate) for energy and will visit any spring flowering shrubs that have open single flowers and a good nectar supply. Since camellias are native to the Asian hornet’s region of origin in south east Asia, it is thought they will seek out these shrubs in preference to anything else.

Spreading the word is a great way to raise awareness. For example, download and print out Asian Hornet information sheets. You can;

  • Add to notice boards in libraries, GP surgeries, schools, villages halls, golf clubs, allotments, etc
  • Ask staff at garden centres, stately homes, botanic gardens, hotels with gardens, and country parks to put on boards in public areas
  • Give to natural history societies, wildlife trust centres, other conservation charities to raise awareness
  • When visiting RSPB venues, other reserves add to any notice boards
  • Hand copies to U3A groups, ramblers, orienteering groups, etc.

You can also help by raising awareness with companies and organisations, for example:

  • Tree surgeons, garden maintenance companies, plant nurseries
  • Farmers and their staff, hedge layers, fruit growers
  • Council workers, town parks
  • Inland lakes boating clubs, fishing clubs, local water board staff
  • Parish newsletters
  • Hospital ground staff
  • Zoos and animal shelters.

There are also a number of places where an Asian hornet can be brought into the country, for example:

  • Food distribution hubs, timber yards
  • Travel congregation points – airports, harbours, camp sites
  • Wet fish distribution centres – fishing ports, fish shops

Many people are on social media and it’s a great way to share with your family and friends how you can get involved.

Are you a beekeeper?

If you are a beekeeper associated with the British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) and interested in becoming an AHT Coordinator for your area, please send an email to the BBKA directly.

For any BBKA branches or associations who would like to nominate an AHT Coordinator, please also send an email to the BBKA directly.

Before nominating, please ensure your branch understands the role of the BBKA and beekeepers concerning Asian hornets.

AHT Coordinators

To find the nearest AHT Coordinator near you, simply click on the interactive map markers above to find their contact details.