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Bad buzz Beekeepers on alert as Ireland's first case of dreaded Asian Hornet is confirmed

As well as posing a threat to native bees, these insects can be dangerous to humans.

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A live Asian giant hornet with a tracking device affixed to it sits on an apple in a tree where it was placed, near Blaine, Washington state, US (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture/AP)

A live Asian giant hornet with a tracking device affixed to it sits on an apple in a tree where it was placed, near Blaine, Washington state, US (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture/AP)

A live Asian giant hornet with a tracking device affixed to it sits on an apple in a tree where it was placed, near Blaine, Washington state, US (Karla Salp/Washington State Department of Agriculture/AP)

Beekeepers across the country have been warned to be ready as the first case of the dreaded Asian Hornet has been identified here in Ireland. 

The Irish Beekeepers Association has said the fears of their members have been realised with a confirmed finding of the predatory insect in Dublin.

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax), also known as the yellow-legged hornet is considered of huge concern as an invasive species in some other countries and a major threat to native biodiversity around the world.

As well as posing a threat to native bees, these insects in certain circumstances can be dangerous to humans.

The Asian Hornet is particularly aggressive at its nest sites and its painful sting has caused several fatalities in Europe.

“Those people with anaphylaxis need to be cautious,” the association warns. “Numerous stings can induce a condition called toxic shock.”

The Asian Hornet was first reported in Jersey in 2016, and since 2017 the Jersey Asian Hornet Group (JAHG) a small group of beekeepers, naturalists and others have been actively tracking and destroying nests.

However, with individuals and nests discovered in England, it was only a matter of time before this predatory insect arrived here.

“And last week, the fears of beekeepers were realised with a confirmed finding of an Asian Hornet, in Dublin,” the association confirmed. “The insect was alive but in poor condition and dying when found; with no evidence of a nest in the vicinity where it was found. It was thought to have entered the country in a crate of fruit.”

They added: “Beekeepers throughout the country need to be ready, as the arrival and establishment of this predator will wreak devastation on already pressurised honey bee colonies and other pollinating insects in serious decline.”

Members of the public are also urged to be vigilant and to report any sightings of it immediately.

“Please notify the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) or the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of any suspect Asian hornets, providing as much information as possible (location, photos etc.).

If it is possible please send a dead sample to DAFM for examination. The specimens can be killed by placing them in domestic freezer overnight. If collecting a sample please take all necessary precautions as hornets can sting.

Contact the NPWS. Horticulture and Plant Health Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Backweston Campus, Celbridge, Co. Kildare. Phone: 01-5058600 Email: beekeeping@agriculture.gov.ie




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