Asian Hornets – the two-inch-long vicious insects whose sting gives the feeling of a big hot nail being hammered into the body with full force, have already killed six people in France and according to experts are now on their way to invade Great Britain in millions.

Since they feed on beehives, their impending invasion has emerged as a great cause of worry to beekeepers, who are going to discuss the issue at a summit.

The Asian hornets force bees to leave their hives to the point of exhaustion so that the hornets can then ransack the hives and feed their young.

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Experts worry that the Asian hornets, that have already devastated the French wildlife and left six dead are now all set to enter Britain

Determined to have reached France through Chinese pot plants in as early as 2004, just a few hornets can destroy up to 30,000 bees within a few hours – and is the sole contributor to the decline in honey produced.

In response to this issue, the Norfolk Beekeepers’ Association, along with the National Bee Unit (which conducts seminars representing the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs or DEFRA) will be conducting a Bee Health Seminar at Easton and Otley College on the 23rd of May.

The various topics that will on be on discussion during this seminar will additionally include diseases that have an extremely high risk of infection and have threatened the existence of several bee species like the American and the European foulbrood.

Carolyne Liston, who is the chairman of the Norfolk Beekeepers’ Association, has stated that the extremely aggressive predators can come to Britain simply through the winds and destroy bee colonies in great numbers. She further expressed her worry of them entering Britain through people who have travelled in France.

Beekeepers in the UK have been alerted regarding this issue via email by DEFRA. They have also been requested to always be on the lookout for them.

The threats that the Asian hornets are posing to the survival of bees shall be discussed at a summit meeting by concerned beekeepers, who have already been alerted by DEFRA

Beekeepers have been instructed not to go near the hornets, which are known to make their nests in places like garages, sheds, or tall trees.

If any Asian hornets are identified, the National Bee Unit will make no delay in dispatching experts from Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories, who will exterminate the deadly pests with the help of special chemicals.

According to a recent announcement in the Queen’s Speech, health officials reserve complete rights to enter any and all (including private) property and exterminate any hornets they have spotted with the help of special chemicals.

These hornets surround beehives in groups, pick off honey bees and thereafter strip off their legs and wings and decapitate them to make a “meatball” out of them to feed their offspring.

While honey bees in Asia have learned to counter the hornets by surrounding them and making them flap their wings so that they die of overheating, their French counterparts have had no time to develop any survival tactics of this kind.

Its sting too, like the bee’s, is extremely painful. However, it can only kill a person if he/she has severe allergic reactions, like the victims in France whose cause of death was identified as anaphylactic shock.

A spokesman from DEFRA confirmed that there had been no sightings of Asian hornets in the UK as of now, and they are taking every possible measure to keep it that way.

SOME FACTS ABOUT THE ASIAN HORNETS

  • Comparatively smaller but much more aggressive than their European counterparts, the Asian hornets are up to 2 inches long in length, a wingspan of around 3 inches and a lifespan of 30-55 days.
  • A single hornet can kill up to forty bees in one minute, with merely a handful being capable of destroying an entire beehive within a few hours.
  • They build their nests in trees, which look like a rugby ball and can have up to 500 hornets.
  • They have (see picture above) a black colored head, an orangish-yellow face with yellow-colored leg tips in comparison to their European counterparts who have a copper-colored head, yellow face and legs that are reddish-brown in color.
  • They operate by sending a lone worker hornet to warn “intruders” failing which they begin to attack as a group.