Useful information

Find out more about NABK and the world of beekeeping.


Asian Hornet Guidance

The Asian hornet (vespa velutina) is a species of hornet which is not native to the UK. It is smaller than our native hornet and single hornets pose no greater risk to human health than other hornets or bees; however, they do pose a risk to honey bees and pollinating insects. This is why we are keen to stop this insect establishing in the UK and why you should report suspected sightings.

There have been reports in other countries of Asian hornets becoming aggressive when their nests are disturbed. If you find a nest, don’t try to remove it yourself – it can be dangerous and should only be done by experts. When a sighting is confirmed, experts from the National Bee Unit (NBU) will work quickly to find and destroy any active nests in the area.

How to spot an Asian hornet

Asian hornets:

  • have a dark brown or black velvety body
  • have a yellow or orange band on fourth segment of abdomen
  • have yellow tipped legs
  • are smaller than the native European hornet
  • are not active at night

Guidance on how to identify an Asian hornet

If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet report it using the ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ app:

Asian Hornet Watch app for iPhone
Asian Hornet Watch app for android

You can also report sightings by email: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk. Please include information on location, date and number of Asian hornets you have seen. Please also include a photo if you can to help our experts identify the insect.

Alternatively, you can fill out an online report form.

Swarms and swarm removal

If you live in the Newton Abbot area you can contact our Swarm Liaison Officer, Mick Megee, on 07581 485174 or 01626 853725. If you live outside the Newton Abbot area you can find your nearest swarm officer via the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) website.

Do you actually have a swarm of honeybees?

Beekeepers are often approached about flying insects, especially in the spring and summer period; however, on many occasions the insects in question are not honeybees at all. Here are some useful identification tips that will help you to decide exactly which kind of insect you have:

Bumblebees

Bumblebees are often confused with honeybees; however they are rounder, larger & furrier and come with a variety of coloured stripes across the end of their tails. Are they in a bird box or under your decking, living in the compost? If so, then leave them alone if at all possible. Bumblebees very rarely sting are important pollinators. Some bumblebees are under threat of extinction.

Beekeepers will not collect or remove bumblebees. 

Solitary bees

Are there lots of small bees popping in and out of the wall or very small holes in the ground. Do they have a "reddy/brown" bottom? Are they almost black? These are solitary bees, of which there are 225 species recorded in the UK and they pose no threat or harm to you, your family or pets. Solitary bees are important pollinators and should be left alone. Their numbers will decrease over the summer and their nests should be left alone.

Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of solitary bees.

Wasps

Is it bright yellow with black stripes? Very smooth, mainly yellow with black stripes? Is it in the roof of your house? Are they coming from a round nest in a tree? Is there a nest in the shed? Do they have a high pitched buzz? Are they after all things sweet? Then these are probably wasps.

Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of wasps.

Hornets

Are they very big with a loud buzz? Are they black and brown with a hint of orange? Living in the roof or shed? Do they have a very big curved tail? These are European hornets and are valuable pollinators usually found in wooden areas.

Beekeepers are unable to assist in the removal of hornets.

Our thanks to the British Beekeepers Association for this information.