In latest decade we notice troubling invasion of hornets from Asia to Europe. These hornets are classified to Vespa genus, but when it’s given attribute “Asian”, we must understand that there are multiple types of asian hornets. They are invasive specie to the western hemisphere and they pose higher danger to Western Honeybees (Apis Mellifera), than European hornets. Most often it is human error that introduces them to Europe. For example, Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) was accidentally introduced to southwest France first time back in 2004. in ceramics of bonsai trees. But due to the fact that there is much confusion about these hornets online there is need for this article. Without further delay, Let’s Meet the Asian Hornets.
Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina)
Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) is different from European hornet (Vespa crabro) which inhabits north America as well, as only true hornet (from Vespa genus). They are smaller than European hornets, and their legs are yellow color. The thorax is velvety brown, while their abdomen is brown. Fourth abdominal segment is orange color, and other segments are yellow. Head is black, while their face is yellow. Asian hornet can be seen on the featured image of this article.
Eastern Honeybees/Asian Honeybees (Apis cerana) managed to develop complex methods to avoid being captured by them. Since these methods are unknown to Western Honeybees, they are significantly weaker against this threat. Vespa velutina are not aggressive, but they do have tendency to attack in group if they feel that their nest is in danger. It is an invasive specie of hornets from Asia which poses major concern in Europe, UK included.
In year 2009, just 5 years after it’s first introduction to France, there were 8000 nests surrounding area of Bordeaux. When attacking in group, their venom is deadly to humans.
Asian Giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia)
Today in Europe and North America hornets from Asia represent one of the most dangerous predators to honeybees. When beekeepers mentions an “asian hornet” they most often refer to the following nightmare. The Giant Asian hornet (Vespa mandarinia), including the former specie known as the Japanese Giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia japonica).
Irrelevant from it’s gender, head of this hornet is a light shade of orange, while antennae are brown with yellow-orange base. The thorax is dark brown and their sixth segment of abdomen is yellow. Asian giant hornets have 2 wings. Their poison if deadly to humans, in case that victim suffers attack from multiple hornets. If an individual is allergic to it’s poison, just one sting can result with death.
Each warrior from Giant hornet can kill up to 40 bees in 1 minute. Honeybees do not stand a chance against them, even if they outnumber them 1000 to 1. Attack from 30 Giant Asian hornets can eliminate colony of 30.000 honeybees within 1 hour. Their weakness is overheating due to their big bodies. At the same time for honeybees, overheating them is only way of defense.
There are other types of hornets from Asia as well, but these are most feared by western beekeepers. Simply because our honeybees didn’t develop useful methods to defend against them. In order to save our honeybees we need to work together in this issue, beekeepers and other people as well. Keep reporting any suspicious hornet to pest control. Keep pressuring your governments to invest more into putting this dangerous, invasive pest under control. Let’s hope that will be helpful. I didn’t have an issue with these hornets yet, but I do believe that this trap will prove efficient for them as well! Trap is easy to dismantle whenever you want. This way you will not rap unwanted insects.