'Be vigilant of bee killing Asian hornets' Brits told as venomous insect spotted in Kent

17 April 2023, 20:18

Asian hornets kill honey bees
Asian hornets kill honey bees. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A new sighting of the venomous Asian hornet has led to a fresh call for people to keep their eye out for the invasive insects.

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The hornets' sting is a risk for people with anaphylaxis, and they are capable of destroying honey bee hives in mere hours as they kill rival insects and use their bodies to feed their young.

The British Bee Keepers Association asked for Brits to keep their eyes out for them after a sighting in Folkestone.

The warmer weather has led to hornet queens laying eggs.

Sue Kittle, a beekeeper, told Kent Online: "These hornets are very defensive of their hives and can do what is called a mass attack.

"You should not approach their nests."

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An Asian hornet has been sighted in Kent
An Asian hornet has been sighted in Kent. Picture: Alamy

She added: "This is an invasive species that can attack and eat our honey bees.

"It can change the whole nature of the bee hives here.

"We need to track them down and find out if this sighting is the beginning of a nest."

It was last seen in the UK in 2019, while at least 20 nests have already been found in Jersey.

The hornets arrived in Europe after they were left on a cargo ship that docked in France in 2004.

Ms Kittle said it was possible the hornets hibernated in winter in France and then flew across the Channel, but they also could have arrived in a lorry.

The hornets have killed at least five people in France with their sting.

It can cause people to go into anaphylactic shock.

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