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Asian Hornets

Report sightings via

Screenshot 2023-07-13 at


If you think you have spotted an Asian Hornet please send information to



To contact via phone please use 




Using the Asian Hornet Watch app, free to download from app stores. There is a convenient “check your ID” feature

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Asian hornets are believed to have arrived in south west France from China in 2004 and have now spread throughout much of western Europe. The first one was detected in Jersey in Autumn 2016 and the first nests were found the following year. Since then, the Environment Department, through an Asian Hornet Coordinator, working in close collaboration with the Jersey Asian Hornet Group (JAHG) of volunteers have controlled Asian hornets in Jersey. The control programme has several elements:

  • Building and maintaining public awareness so that hornets are recognised and reported.

  • A spring queen trapping programme to catch queen hornets in April, May and June as they are foraging to build and feed their primary nest. Potentially each queen caught is one less nest to deal with later.

  • Once worker hornets are reported, tracking them in the summer and autumn so that their nest location is discovered.

  • Safe and effective destruction of nests at the earliest opportunity.

  • Recruitment of Spring trappers and trackers to the cause and ensuring that they are appropriately trained.


The JAHG is made up from interested members of the public, with only some of them being beekeepers. It is clear that this control programme has slowed the incursion of Asian hornets since 2017, but despite this, nest number have risen to 339 recorded nests in 2023. Asian hornets are here to stay.


Beekeepers and Asian hornets

A proportion of the diet of Asian hornets is honey bees, but they also consume a wide range of other insects and pollinators from flies, wasps, spiders etc. A study in France estimated that an average nest consumes 11.32kg of insects biomass in its season.


The effects of Asian hornets on honey bee colonies can be distressing and extreme.

  • Asian hornets will “hawk”  in front of hives, picking bees off one by one. They then butcher them nearby and return to the nest with the thorax, which contains the juicy, protein-rich flight muscles.

  • The bees go into “siege mode” which leads to “foraging paralysis”. As few as 5 Asian hornets hawking at a hive can reduce the foraging activity by 50%.

  • In this defensive siege mode bees may become much more aggressive, and may attack further from the hive than they would normally do.

  • A hive that is not foraging is not gathering pollen, nectar, resin for propolis, water or carrying out cleansing flights … the sum of which leads to a weakened hive.

  • Predation in September/October, when hives are preparing for the winter reduces the numbers of winter bees which are vital to maintain a hive strong enough to survive the winter months.

  • Extreme predation may lead to a full invasion of the hive by Asian hornets. They will completely strip it out of all honey, bees and brood.

  • All the above factors mean that Asian hornets are a serious threat to your bees. Beekeepers in Jersey have lost hives, though fortunately not that many, principally due to the control programme. In some localized areas of France, 80% colony loss has been reported.


What can Beekeepers do to Help?

Beekeepers have a vested interest in protecting their hives from any threats whether Asian hornets or others such as varroa and foulbrood etc.


The JAHG need help to control Asian hornets, and in helping them, beekeepers will help protect their bees. The Asian Hornet Coordinator has produced a document titled “Advice for Beekeepers if their Hives are being Predated Upon by Asian Hornets”. This lays out clear how beekeepers can help themselves, protect their bees and help the control programme.


The principal elements of supporting and helping the Asian hornet control programme and therefore protecting honeybees are:

  • Report any sightings of Asian hornets at your hives or elsewhere. If possible, a photo helps to confirm the sighting, and location details will help form a picture of hornet activity in the area. A report is the first piece of information that leads to finding the nest. Three methods to report Asian hornets are:

    • Email to

    • Phone to 441633

    • Use the Asian Hornet Watch app (Free in app stores). There a good ID guide with the app.

  • Host a spring queen trap, and encourage friends to do the same.

  • Assist in the tracking of the nest by AT LEAST obtaining initial flight lines, and times from near your apiary. A JAHG volunteer will offer support and advice as to how to do this.


There are a number of ways that beekeepers can reduce the impact directly on their honey bees in their apiary. However these work locally within the apiary and do not protect Jersey from Asian hornets, and do not destroy the hornet nest. The best way to protect your beehives and the broader ecology of Jersey is to find and destroy the nest. However, some methods that beekeepers might employ within their apiary are:

  • Trapping – ideally selectively

  • Install a muzzle or “muselière” on the hive

  • Install electric harps around the hives

  • Badminton racquet to swat hornets around the hive

  • “Skirts” around the hive stand to disrupt hawking activity

  • Grow long grass or place branches in front of a hive

  • Close down the hive entrance

  • Chickens may predate upon the hornets

  • New “tent box” method placed in front of the hive

  • Entrance made of piping tubes that disrupt

       hawking activity​

Additional precautions are:

  • Keep the apiary tidy. Collect any brace-comb.

  • Use solid floors rather than mesh floors

  • Feed at dusk

  • Move hives to a less intense Asian hornet area


How to identify an Asian Hornet

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Asian hornets are, when you get your eye in, distinctive. The key ID features are:


  • Body: Generally dark in colour - black/dark brown

  • Rear: KEY FEATURE – dark brown with ONLY the 4th segment in yellow

  • Legs: brown upper part with distinct yellow lower leg - in fact it is often called the yellow-legged hornet

  • Waist: fine, bright yellow “belt”

  • Head: black head with orange/yellow face

  • Shape: sleek, wasp/hornet-like and look as though built for speed rather than plump, hairy, bee-like or fly-like (v large compound eyes)


They are bigger than honeybees and wasps but smaller than our native European hornet. They are often confused with the hornet mimic hoverfly (volucella zonaria).

Identifying Asian hornet nests can be tricky, especially the early spring primary nests that look very similar to wasp nests. The best way to identify a nest is to identify the insect with it. The location of a nest is often a key identifier. Generally nests are roughly spherical. Primary nests have an entrance hole at the bottom. The entrance of a secondary nest is usually just below the equator. The nest is often covered in “folds” of wood pulp that may be confused with multiple entrances.

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Secondary Nest.png

Above: Early Primary nest with the queen

Right: Secondary nest in an oak tree

Life Cycle of Asian Hornets


Nests are started by the queens in the spring when they have emerged from hibernation. Nests are built of wood pulp. During this period the queens are vulnerable to being trapped. Once the first worker hornets emerge, the queen stays in the nest. The nest built in the spring is called a primary nest and is grown from the size of about a tennis ball to the size of a melon by the end of June time. These nests are often found in carports, lean-tos, garages, bird-boxes and bramble patches .. almost anywhere where there is some shelter, usually not higher than 4m.


In July the hornets usually, but not always, relocate high into trees, but nests have been found lower down in hedges, brambles, building roof spaces, cliffs and in the ground. These nests are called secondary nests. Nests are extremely well camouflaged amongst foliage and difficult to see. The secondary nests are built rapidly with some being so large that they won’t fit into a dustbin. It is this nest that produces the males and the virgin queens, which are released around October time.


The virgin queens mate and then go into hibernation for the winter. The old queen in the nest dies, the males, the workers and any brood dies in early winter. Exposed nests are eventually degraded by the weather though this can take a while, and dead nests are occasionally reported in trees throughout the winter by the public, when they are revealed after the leaves have fallen.


​Warning! Hornets Can Sting!


Individually, hornets present little risk if they are left alone, however around a food source such as hives they may become aggressive. A standard bee suit is not sufficient protection against an Asian hornet sting. If you suspect that you may be susceptible to an allergic reaction, ensure that you:

  • carry any medication that you may need such as anti-histamines or an ana-pen or epi-pen.

  • have a charged mobile phone available to you.

  • know your location and be able to give clear, concise directions. What3words is a good way of indicating your location.

  • have a plan. Call someone. Who? Plan to get to a safe place quickly.


Disturbed Asian hornet nests often react very aggressively. If you suspect a hornets nest, DO NOT approach it but report it, and the situation will be assessed and made safe. Do not attempt to “deal with” an Asian hornet nest yourself.


Further Information


If you would like to know more please contact the Asian Hornet Coordinator on

or call Natural Environment on 441600


The BBKA Website: Asian Hornet Vespa Velutina | British Beekeepers Association ( .

Note: For info only. Do not use the BBKA reporting methods as your report will go to the wrong place.


Government website regarding Asian Hornet sightings, identification and reporting in Jersey:,-identification-and-reporting.aspx

What to do if my hives are attacked PDF


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