Grantham beekeeper on a mission to save bees from invasive Asian Hornet
A local beekeeper from Grantham is calling on all Lincolnshire residents to be aware of "a huge threat to our local honey bees."
Stewart Maher, who lives just outside Grantham, has a small apiary of about 15 hives just between Sleaford and Grantham.
He is the Lincolnshire Beekeepers Association’s Asian Hornet Coordinator and is calling upon residents in the county to be vigilant when out and about.
Stewart is asking people to be look out for Asian Hornets and nests this Asian Hornet Awareness Week, which runs from Monday September 7.
According to Stewart, the Asian Hornet is an "invasive species is a huge threat to our local honey bees, and has the potential to decimate hives across the county."
One Asian Hornet alone can kill 60-90 honey bees per day, and dozens of them will ‘hawk’ a hive simultaneously decimating the bees, meaning it can be destroyed or irreparably weakened to the extent it can’t survive.
Stewart said: “The Asian Hornet is one of the biggest threats to our bees.
It goes without saying that due to global warming, intensive farming and less flora and fauna, our wonderful honey bee is under severe threat already.
"I’ve seen first hand the damage Asian Hornet‘s can do to a hive; they systematically destroy it and in France, where they are now established, they are an ecological disaster.
"Since this is an invasive species, our bees don’t have any defences against them - but we can protect them. We can be their defence.”
You can identify an Asian Hornet by it’s very distinct markings - they’re a similar size to a European Hornet, which is two or three times the size of a common wasp, are black with a yellow stripe on their abdomen, brown upper leg with distinct yellow lower leg.
Last year, Stewart travelled to Jersey, where they have become established due to their close proximity to France, to help local volunteers track and destroy Asian Hornet nests.
In a week, the team discovered and removed several nests. In 2019, a total of 83 nests were found on the Channel Island and without the extraordinary efforts of local beekeepers, beekeeping would be impossible on the island.
Stewart added: “It’s heartbreaking to see what has happened in Jersey, and we do not want that to happen in Lincolnshire.
"If just one nest is missed and not destroyed, then six to ten more will crop up the following season. We need to get ahead of this potential catastrophe, now.
"That’s why I’m calling on everyone in Lincolnshire to be vigilant, be aware of hornet sightings, look out for nests which are usually high up in trees, and report any sightings.
"We are extremely concerned that they will spread into the UK and Lincolnshire, and if they do it’s vital to eliminate them before they can establish themselves.
"This is because they are entering a new environment where local wildlife have developed no natural defences, and they can multiply to the point that all honey bees are threatened which is what’s happened in France, Portugal, Northern Spain and now The Channel Islands’."
Asian Hornets are also a threat to people, as their sting is very powerful so it could put an adult in hospital. Multiple stings from the Hornets have caused fatalities in Europe where they are now endemic.
If you think you see an Asian Hornet or nest, you can do one, or all, of the following:
- Take a photo on your phone for identification and report it by email.
- Report it to the National Bee Unit, or call 03003030094.
- Each area’s Beekeepers Association has an Asian Hornet Coordinator who can advise or help with identification, which you can find by searching Asian Hornet Action Team Map on Google.
- Download the Asian Hornet Watch app, available on iOS and Android.