The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) is an invasive species of wasp with a voracious appetite for insects, and honey bees are very much a part of its diet. Whilst the Asian hornet is expected to be largely confined to southern regions of England, the government and beekeepers are exercising caution. Since arriving in Europe, it has spread quickly throughout France, and sightings as far north as Hull and Bury in Lancashire suggest this species of hornet is both a resilient and adaptable customer..
Representing a community of local beekeepers, the Huddersfield Bee Keepers Association is keen to do its bit in helping to prevent the Asian hornet from establishing itself in our region, where it has the potential to adversely disrupt local ecosystems. On 14th January, the HDBKA ran a session on making Asian hornet traps at its Taylor Hill facility so local beekeepers can help monitor the presence of this unwelcome intruder and report it.
It was the first trap making session the association has run, but with an element of trial and error and lots of patience we managed to produce some good examples. There are a number of government resources available online to educate beekeepers about the Asian hornet, and assist in trap making, including a Blue Peter style “Here’s one I made earlier” video courtesy of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/asian-hornet-uk-sightings-in-2018).
Essentially the trap is constructed from a 2 litre plastic bottle. On the evening, we used a variety of such bottles but the consensus was that Waitrose water bottles were the best for the job. The ridged design made it easy to cut without having to measure, and the dimensions of the bottle meant that the central cylinder and base of the trap slid together much more easily than some of the other available containers.
Perhaps the trickiest and most time-consuming part of trap construction was cutting, shaping and fitting the wire gauze necessary for separating captured insects from the bait. We used a robust gauze which with hindsight was a bit too heavy duty, making manipulation more difficult than it needed to be. To that end, when building a trap, opt for a lightweight gauze.
Finally, if you are using a soldering iron to punch holes for the wires to hold the base in place, there is a tendency for the sections to become welded together, making it harder to release the base from the cylinder.
Overall though, and as the photographs show, the end results of our trap making evening weren’t bad at all and no doubt come April they will be deployed to monitor the presence of the Asian hornet in Huddersfield.
For more information on the Asian hornet and building hornet traps, visit the BBKA: (https://www.bbka.org.uk/Pages/FAQs/Category/asian-hornet-faqs)
and the UK Government website: