A significant expansion of the Asian hornet population in Jersey this year is feared. The hornet has spread across Europe since it arrived in France in 2004 and Jersey’s honey producers and Environment Department staff are at the forefront of a UK government-led fight to stem the advance.
JEP nature correspondent and Jersey Beekeepers Association member Bob Tompkins was a key figure in last year’s initiative.
Last week beekeepers met Environment to plan for next month, when hibernating hornets queens are expected to emerge to establish colonies. In today’s paper he writes: ‘The hope is that each parish will have designated co-ordinators who will be able to receive calls and confirm sightings before passing that information on to the hornet hunter teams, thereby freeing their time to respond to positive calls only.’
The first Asian hornet was sighted in Jersey in August 2016. Between April and October last year 15 nests were found here and destroyed.
Nest have also been found in Guernsey and Alderney and the UK but not on the scale of the local finds.
Mr Tompkins says: ‘Resources within Environment and the Jersey Beekeepers Association were stretched last year to the extent that the work took over our lives for months, something we are keen to avoid this year.’
Environment will shortly be publishing a leaflet explaining how the public can get involved and to help identify the insect.
The Asian hornet is smaller than the more common native European hornet. It measures between 17 mm and 32 mm and its sting – which is painful and in rare cases can be fatal – measures 6 mm.
Also known as yellow-legged hornets, they are predominantly black with a broad orange stripe on the abdomen and a fine yellow band on the first segment. Sightings should be reported immediately to Environment by calling 441600.