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Asian hornets survive their first UK winter

by | 04 Jun 24 | News | 0 comments

Asian hornets have survived their first UK winter, confirmed by DNA analysis, suggesting the invasive species could find a permanent home on British soil.

Last month, hornets were captured in traps installed by the National Bee Unit in Four Oaks, Kent. DNA samples taken from the specimen confirmed them to be the offspring of a nest destroyed in November 2023 in nearby Rye.

Master beekeeper Lynne Ingram spoke to the BBC about the results, saying: “The DNA analysis has now proved they are overwintering – they could get really established here.”

A single hornet is capable of producing 350 queens, and while 90% of these will not survive the winter, every queen that does can seed an entire colony.

Asian hornets are known to be “highly aggressive predators” and pose a significant threat to native insects, particularly honeybees, of which the hornet can hunt down and eat up to 50 a day, according to the British Beekeepers Association – the association is now trying to locate other nests before new queens are produced.

Last month the UK’s chief plant health officer urged vigilance after a record number of the species were found.

More information on how to identify an Asian hornet can be found at www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife/how-identify/have-you-found-hornet.

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