The asian hornet, or vespa velutina, is an invasive specie from the Southeast Asia, that, it is believed, reached Europe in 2004, through Bordeaux, France, coming in a cargo ship from China. This specie quickly spread across France, having reached the north of Spain before 2010, first the Basque Country and then Galicia, having one year later reached the north of Portugal.
Vespa velutina has a long nesting season and generally build their nests in high places, crown of trees, being extremely aggressive on defending their colonies and when disturbed. After some months they abandon their old nest and build a new one, with a new generation of queens spreading in autumn and hibernating over winter.
It is estimated that the asian hornet (workers) can live between 30 to 55 days, also depending on temperature, feeding themselves with other insects and having a special taste for honey bees (apis mellifera). This situation has caused enormous losses among the beekeepers communities who have their hives in the aforementioned regions, once a dozen of asian hornets can destroy several colonies in a short period of time. Plus, the european native bees did not have time yet to develop a mechanism of defense, in contrary to the asian honey bees (apis cerana) where this coexistence is more smooth.
Currently, in Galicia, in the north of Portugal and in several communities in France this problem has become the major concern of the beekeepers and the authorities who are carrying activities to locate, identify and destroy the nests. It is also a problem of public health regarding the hostility of the asian hornets comparing with the european wasps.
Earlier this month, it has been confirmed in United Kingdom, Lincolnshire, the first sighting of an asian hornet in a cauliflower. The british authorities are already carrying actions of surveillance and monitoring to detect nests. According to BBKA (British Beekeepers Association), “at this time of year, the hornet is likely to be a newly emerged queen which is looking to establish a nest. If a nest was established last year it would have died out over winter”.
APiS Technology has been working in several solutions for beekeeping and the asian hornet is also one of our priorities. The identification and location of the nests is a priority at the moment, giving then the opportunity to the authorities to carry the respective actions.