Asian Hornets spotted in UK and pose major threat to bees – but we have a secret weapon

British worker bees that produce honey are under major threat after Asian hornets were spotted in the UK.

But our native hornets are doing their bit to repel the alien invaders – by forming ‘hit squads’ and biting their heads off.

The government has warned beekeepers and members of the public to remain vigilant over sightings of the predatory species from overseas.

The National Bee Unit confirmed sightings in the Rayleigh area of Essex with ongoing monitoring underway.

The invasive Asian hornets have not been seen in this country since April.

The foreign hornets first reached Britain in 2016 but have been mostly confined to the Channel Islands.

And despite the threat they pose to worker bees they are not any more dangerous to humans than native wasps, hornets or bees.

They’re trying to spread across the UK but volunteers tracking and destroying them in the Channel Islands have reported a new ally.

British hornets, which are bigger and tougher, are standing for no nonsense.

The minute an Asian hornet appears on the scene, the Blighty assassins buzz into action.

Defra’s Chief Plant and Bee Health Officer Nicola Spence said: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.

“That’s why we are working at speed to locate and investigate any nests in the area following this confirmed sighting.

“While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than other wasps or hornets, we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies and other beneficial insects.

“Please continue to look out for any Asian hornets and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online.”

One Asian hornet was spotted in April 2022, and a swift response to its sighting soon followed.

Asian hornets are not generally aggressive toward people but it has been noted that members of the public should take care not to disturb it or a nest of Asian hornets.

The Asian hornet will be particularly aggressive should they perceive a threat to their nest.

Those who believe they have spotted an Asian hornet are asked to attempt to safely photograph one and report the sighting on the “Asian Hornet Watch” app.

Channel Islands wildlife expert Bob Tompkins, who writes the Jersey Evening Post’s nature column, said he had seen Asian hornets being attacked and dismembered.

He wrote in his column “I have seen this happen on several occasions and, more recently, have begun to find dead Asian hornets on the feeding dishes that have clearly been stung, killed and partially dismembered.”

The fightback comes as a record number of Asian hornet nests have been found on Jersey this year, with more than 100 nests already destroyed.