Beekeeper will lead fight against Asian hornets
A BEEKEEPER will oversee plans to deal with the spread of Asian hornets as part of a new strategy.
Alastair Christie (54), who has been on the Jersey Beekeepers’ Association’s management committee and was the managing director of the Lavender Farm, has been appointed by the government as the Island’s Asian hornet co-ordinator.
Mr Christie will investigate ways to protect the public, the Island’s biodiversity and honey bee populations from the impact of the invasive predator.
Objectives set out in a new strategy called the Asian Hornet Management Plan include slowing the rate of the species’ spread and funding the destruction of nests by professional pest controllers by providing specialist equipment, materials, training and advice. The strategy will also aim to ensure Islanders are aware of Asian hornets and the risks that they pose.
Mr Christie has seen the damage that Asian hornets can do to bees, and has experience of hornet tracking, as well as verifying hornet reports.
‘It’s a unique role that suits me. I’m hands-on, I like the outdoors and I’ve been a beekeeper for many years,’ Mr Christie said.
‘I have a keen interest in Jersey’s diverse and rich ecology, and I’m looking forward to playing my part in protecting it from this invasive species.
‘The Asian hornet has the ability to change the face of beekeeping and the ecology of Jersey. It is worth doing our bit to fight this pest, and it’s important that our response is co-ordinated and draws on the expertise across the Island.’
The appointment and publication of the plan comes after two years of the Environment Department working with the Jersey Beekeepers’ Association to halt the spread of Asian hornets in the Island.
The insect is native to parts of eastern Asia and was accidentally introduced to south-west France in 2004. It went on to reach the Channel Islands and the UK in 2016. The rise in the number of nests found in Jersey indicates a rapid rate of establishment and 2019 could see a further increase in numbers, according to the management plan.
The full strategy can be found on gov.je.