Speaking after a two-day workshop attended by 25 British-Irish Council environment sector officers, hosted by the Environment Department, the Island’s director of environmental protection, Dr Tim du Feu, said techniques developed by local beekeepers to locate nests were likely to be copied across the UK and Ireland.
‘They were extremely interested in and keen to get all the information that our hornet hunters have developed over the past two years and what we have been doing to locate nests was at the forefront of the discussions,’ he said.
‘It was suggested that we should all keep in email contact so we can co-ordinate all our work and keep talking through it.’
The Asian hornet, which arrived in Europe in the French port of Marseilles in 2004, and has since spread as far as Holland, was first spotted in the British Isles in Alderney in July 2016. The first insect was sighted in Jersey a few days later. So far only two nests have been found in the UK, but Asian hornet activity in Cornwall and east Yorkshire this week has prompted hunts for nests in those areas.
Since April almost 40 nest have been found in Jersey and beekeepers from the UK’s South West and British government insect experts have been in the Island this summer, training in tracking techniques and helping to locate nests. The Asian hornet is also established in Guernsey.
The Asian hornet is a major threat to the honey industry and food production as it preys on bees and other pollinating insects. A nest can house up to 6,000 hornets and 200 queens – each capable of establishing its own colony – and a single insect can kill 50 bees in one day.
Local hornet hunters Bob Hogge and John de Carteret addressed the delegates, along with Dr Peter Kennedy, of Exeter University, who was in the Island last month trialling a new radio transmitting tracking system which has been funded by the UK Government.
The two-day workshop ended on Wednesday afternoon with field trips to nest sites in the west of the Island, where delegates were able to see local beekeepers using the methods they have developed to manually trap, tag and trace the flights of hornets to locate nests.
‘I hope what the delegates have taken away with them is the huge efforts we have made this year and the sheer number of nests we have had to deal with, and how quickly the Asian hornet has become established in the Island,’ Dr du Feu said.