Nineteen nests have been destroyed so far this year – including four large ‘secondary nests’, each of which can house 6,000 hornets and 200 new queens.
And experts are now desperate to kill as many nests as possible before September – the month in which the queens will mate and hibernate, before re-emerging next spring to start their own colonies.
Although it is accepted that Asian hornets cannot be eradicated from Jersey, beekeepers are hoping to avoid a repeat of the crisis in Galicia in northern Spain, which has seen the number of nests rise from two in 2012 to 10,642 by 2016.
A group of volunteers, led by beekeeper John de Carteret, have been locating nests by trapping and marking hornets and following their movements.
He is now calling on more Islanders to join the team in an effort to manage the population. ‘Essentially, we need more people on the ground. The whole population of Jersey needs to be made aware of what we are facing and we want people to give a little bit of their time to help manage the spread.
‘We have a team of about 30 at the moment and there is only so much we can do. Two parishes – St Peter and St Clement – currently have no volunteers. We want people to volunteer to give up their time to monitor the movement of the hornets at the bait stations we set up.’
He added: ‘There is a certain satisfaction in killing an individual Asian hornet, but you learn nothing from doing it. There is a report about a beekeeper in the south of France who killed thousands of Asian hornets outside his hives, and it made absolutely no difference. The key to all this is finding the nests.’
Asian hornets, which prey on bees and have caused a major decline in honey production in parts of the continent, were first spotted in Jersey in August 2016.
Although they are now established across the Island, the population appears to be concentrated in two areas: St Brelade’s Bay to St Aubin, and St Saviour between La Hougue Bie and St Saviour’s Road. This week a secondary nest was destroyed in the roof of a house in St Saviour’s Road. Another secondary nest was destroyed in a different St Saviour location earlier this year, and two others were destroyed in Ouaisné.
The volunteer team also believes there are nests in the area of Les Cinq Chênes in St Saviour, as well as Maufant, Green Island and St Brelade’s Bay.
Anyone wanting to volunteer should email their name and contact details to email@example.com and their correspondence will be forwarded to Mr de Carteret.