The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of the Asian hornet in the Bury area of Lancashire. It was spotted by a member of the public in a cauliflower, which has since been traced back to Boston, Lincolnshire.
The Asian hornet is smaller than our native hornet and poses no greater risk to human health than a bee. However, they do pose a risk to honey bees and work is already underway to identify any nests, which includes setting up a surveillance zone and traps in the two identified locations and deploying bee inspectors to visit local beekeepers.
This is the first confirmed sighting since last year, when a nest was discovered in Woolacombe in North Devon. That Asian hornet incursion was successfully contained by bee inspectors who promptly tracked down and destroyed the nest.
Nicola Spence, Defra Deputy Director for Plant and Bee Health, said:
While the Asian Hornet poses no greater risk to human health than a bee, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies. That’s why we are taking swift and robust action to locate and investigate any nests in the Bury and Boston areas following this confirmed sighting.
Following the successful containment of the Asian hornet incursion in North Devon last year, we have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.
We remain vigilant across the country, working closely with the National Bee Unit and their nationwide network of bee inspectors.
Bee inspectors from APHA National Bee Unit will be carrying out surveillance and monitoring in a 1-2 km radius around the initial sighting. Additional monitoring and surveillance will be carried out in the Boston area where the cauliflower was grown.
If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet you can report this using the iPhone and Android app ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ or by emailing email@example.com. Identification guides and more information are available.
- The cost of eradication on private land will be met by APHA.
- Members of the public can also report sightings by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a photo or on the Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat website.
- 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.
- The Great Britain Non-native Species Secretariat is a joint venture between Defra, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government to tackle the threat of invasive species. More information can be found on their website.
- For details on the appearance of an Asian hornet please can be found on Bee Base guide or the non-native species identification guide.
- Photographs of the Asian hornet are available on our Flickr account