Accept cookies?

Our websites use cookies to deliver services to you on the internet. We do not use these to store personal information about you. Selecting Yes or No will set a cookie to remember your choice for this website.

YES     NO

Close this window   |  More information about our use of cookies.

Recent News Items


View all news stories




August 2018 - Queen replacement survey results


Defra would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to this survey. The working group that put this survey together are very much encouraged by your interest and engagement in this topic. It clearly shows that it is an important issue for beekeepers and government alike.

A pdf summary report of the questions is attached. We hope this will be of interest to you.

We are continuing to work with beekeeping organisations on the analysis of these results and also looking at options for ways to improve our ability to rear queens in the UK.

The Queen Rearing Working Group is chaired by Defra with representatives from the National Bee Unit (NBU), the Bee Farmers’ Association (BFA), the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA), the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association (BIBBA) and the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB).

Queen Replacement Survey Results



June 2018 - New Asian Hornet Trap Recording in BeeBase Beekeeping Records

Dear Beekeepers.

The National Bee Unit (NBU) has added a new BeeBase feature to help understand UK Asian hornet surveillance.

In April 2018 a single Asian hornet queen was photographed by a member of the public in Bury, Lancashire, on a cauliflower which was traced back to a farm in Boston, Lincolnshire. The NBU has continued to monitor for the hornet’s presence in both counties but to date, has found no Vespa velutina at either of these sites.

Many Beekeepers are monitoring for Asian hornets and BeeBase apiary records have been improved so beekeepers can record when traps are located in their apiaries. Please update your records to help us understand where traps have been placed across the UK in the ‘my apiary’ tab. Guidance on how to use the new recording feature, as well as additional information about how to log into your BeeBase account can be found in our Beekeeper Pages FAQ.

The NBU will continue to update you on Asian Hornet surveillance throughout the year.




June 2018 - Asian hornet identified in Lancashire

The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of a single Asian hornet in Lancashire. More information can be found in the Defra Press release:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/asian-hornet-identified-in-lancashire

Further guidance on the Asian hornet can be found on the Asian hornet pages of BeeBase including an Asian hornet ID sheet and Asian hornet poster .

We have written a monitoring trap for the Asian hornet fact sheet and an Asian hornet trap making video to help assist you in monitoring for the Asian hornet.

You can report sightings with your smart phone or tablet, by using the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app for Androids and iOS. The app also uses GPS which allows the user to submit the exact location of their finding, allowing any confirmed sightings to be followed up quickly and efficiently.

Alternatively, you can submit your sighting by email. When doing so, please include as much information as possible, including where you saw the sighting, name, contact number/ address and if possible an image. Send your sightings to: alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk.

Finally you can also use the online recording form which can be found at:

http://www.brc.ac.uk/risc/alert.php?species=asian_hornet

Please could all media enquiries be directed to the Defra press Office: 0208 2257317

We thank you in advance for your co-operation.



June 2018 - Live Data Maps

Please note: We are currently experiencing issues with our live data maps and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.



May 2018 - Swarms of honeybees

The National Bee Unit has been receiving a large amount of calls regarding honey bee swarms. Please note that we do not deal with swarms, however, you may find the following advice useful in re-directing your enquiry:

First of all it is important to establish what sort of insect it is. Usually, beekeepers are only willing to assist with honey bees. The British Beekeepers Association(BBKA) website holds list of volunteer Swarm Collectors and has a very useful identification and guidance page.



May 2018 - Small Hive Beetle is not confirmed in France

The National Bee Unit (NBU) received news on 30/04/2018 of a suspected finding of Small hive beetle eggs in an imported consignment of bees (1000 queens) in France. The news has been widely shared across the UK’s beekeeping community.

A formal Communiqué de presse was issued by the Ministère de l’ Agriculture & ANSES on 4th May 2018 http://agriculture.gouv.fr/parasite-des-abeilles-aethina-tumida-suspicion-non-confirmee it explained how analyses carried out at the national reference of Sophia Antipolis laboratory is inconclusive and the available material will not allow further analysis.

The import was originally from Argentina and is said to have been widely distributed in France, further checks will be taking place during the season. There are currently no confirmed reports of Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) in Argentina (source OIE) however the beetle has been found in other parts of South America.

The UK has received one import of 525 queens from Argentina this year. The NBU proactively took action to inspect the imported queens, Fera Science Ltd received the consignment samples for mandatory checks and no Aethina tumida were found to be present.

UK authorities remain active in preparing and monitoring for the Small hive beetle. Contingency training exercises have been run by the NBU to provide opportunities to test and improve protocols. Further information on Small hive beetle can be found in the NBU advisory leaflet.



May 2018 - Up to date information on the Asian hornet

If you would like to know more about the Asian hornet, there are two pages which will be of use to you:

The National Bee Unit's BeeBase page on the Asian hornet;

The Non Native Species Secretariat's page on the Asian hornet.

Additionally, if you are interested in finding out more details of the Tetbury outbreak in 2016, including genetic analysis of the hornets origin, this can be found in the PLoS One publication: Budge GE, Hodgetts J, Jones EP, Ostoja Starzewski JC, Hall J, Tomkies V, et al. (2017) The invasion, provenance and diversity of Vespa velutina Lepeletier (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Great Britain. PLoS ONE 12(9): e0185172. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185172.



March 2018 - An Update on the Asian Hornet Outbreak in Woolacombe and Information about the Tetbury Nest Analysis

Please note that in order to see some of the content, you may need to temporarily turn off your pop-up blocker.

Please click the following blue link to view an image of an Asian hornet sighting in Woolacombe hawking in front of beehives . Image courtesy of Martyn Hocking.

Following suspect sightings, on Sunday 24th September the NBU received two photographs from a beekeeper in Woolacombe, North Devon, of an Asian hornet. The following day, the 25th September, preliminary surveillance began in the apiary and the NBU's Contingency Plan was activated. The local Bee Inspector monitored the apiary and initially found surveillance difficult due to the position of the colonies in the apiary. However, that morning, the Inspector managed to capture a hornet and sent the sample to the NBU in Sand Hutton for formal identification. Later that afternoon, the Inspector returned to the apiary site and a further 7 hornets were seen hawking in front of hives, but no line of sight could be ascertained, to establish a flight path back to the nest.

On the 26th September, South West Region inspectors were deployed to intensify searches for Asian hornets hawking in the area. Wet, misty and murky morning weather conditions were not ideal, but the Inspectors continued to survey the original outbreak apiary and two lines of sight were established. Inspectors were able to identify a second apiary site about 1km from the original outbreak, where one hornet was seen hawking for returning foraging bees. A hornet sample was taken, in order to establish if the hornets visiting the second apiary site were from the same nest and thus determine if there were multiple nests in the area.

Hornets were also observed in an apiary at a further site and were seen flying in a similar line of sight. The lines of sight from both the outbreak apiary and the second apiary combined were enough for an initial triangulation to be taken and investigated. The Inspectors began investigating public footpaths and the area around where the lines of sight met at the triangulation. A great deal of Asian hornet activity was observed at a nearby building site and on 27th September an Asian hornet nest was discovered.

The nest was destroyed the following evening, removed and taken to the Fera lab (Sand Hutton, York) on Friday 29th Sept. Further surveillance was carried out within a 10 km zone of the nest site and no further Asian hornet activity was detected. Following analysis of the nest has shown that none of the adult hornets were male and this indicates that the nest was detected and removed before the production of queens which will have gone into winter and then produced nests in 2018.

Additionally, if you are interested in finding out more details of the Tetbury outbreak in 2016, including genetic analysis of the hornets origin, this can be found in the PLoS One publication: Budge GE, Hodgetts J, Jones EP, Ostoja Starzewski JC, Hall J, Tomkies V, et al. (2017) The invasion, provenance and diversity of Vespa velutina Lepeletier (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Great Britain. PLoS ONE 12(9): e0185172. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0185172.

A separate document is available to view the Welsh Version of Asian Hornet Update in Woolacombe


Back to top