Our Asian Hornet Action Team Leader is: Ivor Flatman
Vespa velutina, sometimes known as the 'Asian hornet' is an invasive non-native species from Asia. If you find one you must report it. It arrived in France in 2004 and has spread rapidly. As a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, it can cause significant losses to bee colonies, other native species and potentially ecosystems.
What to look out for
- Vespa velutina queens are up to 30 mm in length; workers up to 25 mm (slightly smaller than the native European hornet Vespa crabro)
- Mostly black body except for its 4th abdominal segment which is a yellow band located towards the rear
- It has characteristic yellow legs which accounts for why it is often called the yellow legged hornet
- Face is orange with two brownish red compound eyes
- Vespa velutina is a day flying species which, unlike the European hornet, ceases activity at dusk
What do you do if you find an Asian hornet?
1. Please use the Asian Hornet Watch app on your phone to send a picture and a location via GPS in the app straight to the non-native species secretariat and National Bee Unit.
2. If you cannot download the Asian Hornet Watch app, please use this online recording form
3. As a last resort, you send a picture and email with details of where you saw the Asian hornet with your contact details
If it is safe to do so, you can send in a sample to the National Bee Unit for examination to confirm identity (please note the specimen must be dead before sending it in). However, do not under any circumstances disturb or provoke an active hornets’ nest. For more information visit the Non Native Species Secretariat website.
Information on this page is taken from the BBKA's FAQ page where there is more information.
We may be able to help collect some honey bee swarms however we regret that Barnsley Beekeepers do not offer a formal swarm collection service. Our Association is made up of private individuals who are often at work or may be away. We are not qualified or insured to carry out “works” on properties and are not pest control experts. However we may be able to help with collecting swarms of honey bees from time-
- Don’t panic -
when a swarm leaves a hive, large numbers of bees build up on the outside of the hive and will take to the air. The swarm will be very loose with bees appearing to fill the air in a space around 4 metres across and extending 3 or 4 meters up into the air. It will gradually drift over 10 minutes towards a nearby tree, bush, hedge, gate, fence or wall and alight. After about half an hour the swarm will consolidate into a tight cluster. Some bees will be seen flying around and to and fro from the cluster. During swarming the bees are often at their least dangerous. Keep your distance and do not provoke the swarm.
- Do I need to do anything about a swarm? -
You can contact us to see if we have anyone available to come out and collect the swarm. We may or may not, depending on availability of individual Association members. Otherwise, no, you can leave it to its own devices. A honey bee swarm is transient. Depending on the weather and how easy it is for the bees to find their permanent home, the swarm will only stay put anything from a few hours to a few days. Longer than this, and the bees will run our of food and perish. If they find a new home, they will leave quickly. The flying swarm may occupy a space around 3m across and 5m long and travel at around 5- 10 mph. They will typically fly a couple of metres off the ground (lower if it is windy). Stay out of their way and all will be well.
- Have I got a honey bee swarm? -
We can only deal with honey bees. Honey bees swarm, other bees and wasps do not. A honey bee swarm when clustered, looks out of place. It will be in a tree, bush, on a fence or some other place you wouldn’t expect to see a cluster of bees out in the open. See below for what a honey bee swarm looks like. If the bees are flying and not clustered, not much can be done about them other than to keep out of their way.
- Are they honey bees? -
See below for what honey bees look like along with other types of bee and wasp. Only honey bees can be re- homed in a bee hive.
- I have bees in my compost bin or bird box -
The most common type of bee to take up residence in a compost bin or bird/nest box is the bumble bee. Wasps may also make a home here. In both cases, the nest will die out in late summer or autumn allowing the bin or box to be cleared. If you can, avoid the immediate area (e.g. walking within about 1.5m of their entrance). Without knowing it, most people in an urban or suburban area will have a wasp nest within 20m or where they live. There will be plenty of bumble bee nests nearby as well. You will rarely notice either. As these are not honey bees, we cannot re- home either bumble bees or wasps. If they become a health hazard you may need to contact a pest control company.
- I have bees entering holes in my house walls -
in the spring, it is very common to see anything from a few to maybe a couple of dozen smallish, reddish bumble bees darting in and out of small holes in bricks, stones and mortar joints. There may be more of them on sunny days and hardly any on cool, grey days. These are likely to be red masonry bees. They do no harm and will only sting if trapped. Leave them alone and you will soon not notice them.
- I have bees coming out of holes in my lawn -
similar to red masonry bees, these will be another types of solitary bee that have burrowed into the soil, usually later in the summer. Again, these do no harm and present a negligible risk of stinging.
- I have bees living in my wall, roof, chimney or soffit -
Bee (or wasps) that have taken up residence in the structure of a building are beyond our area of expertise. Even if honey bees, we are not qualified, equipped or insured to carry out works on peoples’ properties. It is probably best that you call out either the council or a local pest control company. A honey bee nest can become so large that it will potentially bridge the space between the skins of a house wall and cause damp problems. Therefore, it s better to call in the professionals sooner rather than later.
Only beekeepers will deal with swarms (pest controllers will not come out for a swarm).
Rotherham Beekeepers Association: http://www.rotherhambka.talktalk.net/contacts.html
Note: A pest controller (private or council) will not come out for a swarm! Swarms are transient and usually move one.
If you believe that you, your family, your property or your animals are at risk from bees or wasps, call you local pest control department* (see below) or search for a local pest control company on the internet.
Remember a pest controller will only come out for an established nest.
Regulatory Services, PO Box 602. Barnsley, S70 9FB
Office hours are 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Thursday and 8.30am to 4.30pm on Friday.
Telephone: 01226 772468
Fax: 01226 775699
Note: Barnsley Council may do not come out for bees (even established nests).
Gayton Road, Pitsmoor, Sheffield, S4 7DB
Telephone: (0114) 203 7410 or (0114) 203 7411. The lines are open from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
Fax: (0114) 203 7417
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
Community Protection Unit, Reresby House, Bow Bridge Close, Rotherham, S60 1BY
Telephone: 01709 823118 from 8:30am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday
* It is likely that your local council will make a call out charge or charge per nest removed.
If your local council will not come out to deal with a bees or wasp nest, you can call a private local pest control company. An approximate call out fee is around £50.
Below are a few tips on swarms and bee nests:
What type of bee?
If you find something that resembles a nest of bees, what type of bee are they? Do they look like any of the following?
Typically black and brown, sometimes with orange bands on the abdomen. They form swarms from May to July and can set up home in wall cavities, roof spaces, chimneys and beneath eaves.
A swarm is short lived and rarely stays in situ for more than a couple of days. A colony however may last for years.
Beekeepers may be able to collect swarms if they are accessible. Colonies within wall cavities and chimneys are often difficult to remove and usually require the assistance of the local pest control department.
Unmistakably black and bright yellow. They live in papery colonies made from wood pulp.
Wasps don’t swarm and their colonies only last from spring through to the autumn before dying out as the new queens leave the nest.
It is said that in any urban or suburban area you will be less than 20 m away from a wasp nest. They often go completely unnoticed and rarely cause harm. They will become defensive if interfered with.
Beekeepers rarely deal with wasp nests therefore the local pest control department is the best bet for the removal of awkwardly located nests.
Bumble bees are typically characterised by their often large, hairy bodies, and a more ponderous (“bumbling”) flight. Of the 24 species in the UK, their size varies widely. Their colour ranges from bold black and yellow with white or buff tails, to black and copper or ginger and buff.
Bumble bees make their nest in a variety of places including underground cavities beneath hedges, compost bins, cavities beneath sheds and roof spaces. Their colonies last through from spring to late summer before dying out as the new queens leave the nest.
Beekeepers sometimes help to relocate bumble bee nests. If possible it is best to leave a bumble bee nest alone and clear away any nest material or block off access holes when the nest has died down in the autumn. They will rarely cause harm unless provoked. Awkwardly located nests that may affect children or farm animals should be dealt with by the local pest control department.
What type of nest?
If you can see any of the nest what does it look like?
Bumble bee nest
Bumble bee nests vary is size from small nests the size of a grapefruit to ones 40-
In the spring, wasps can often be seen chiseling wood from garden furniture, leaving scrape marks behind. They use this wood to make pulp to build their papery nests. The size of wasp nest depends on the species. Some nests may be the size of an orange while some cam be a metre across.
Honey bee swarm
A honey bee swarm is not a nest. It is a temporary gathering of bees looking for a new home. They are often seen during May and June clinging to branches in bushes and trees or sometimes on gates and walls.
This is what a beekeeper will often help with removing (if accessible).
A swarm shouldn’t be interfered with and will fly off once it has found a suitable home.
Wild honey bee colony
A wild honey bee colony may be built in a cavity or (as in this picture) hanging from the roof of an out building. Honey bee colonies are perennial, lasting all year and from one year to the next.
Wild colonies are difficult to re-
Bee, beekeeping and bug related sites:
The BBKA is the UK umbrella organisation for most regional beekeeping associations in the UK. The BBKA represents the interests of British beekeepers at a political lobbying level and provides information and support to its members
The regional association for Yorkshire and the association of which Barnsley Beekeepers is a district member
BIBBA is an organisation dedicated to preserving the “British” bee (alternatively know as Apis mellifera mellifera or the Western European dark bee)
The NBU is based at the Central Science Laboratory of fera (the Government research agency for agricultural matters). This site is a must for information on bee diseases
The Government department responsible for agricultural and animal health issues
An on line retailer that specialises in books about bees
The official journal of the British Beekeepers Association
UK charity concerned with protecting bumblebees and their habitats
UK charity dedicated to the protection of butterflies
UK charity dedicated to conserving invertebrates
Click here to find out where we have our meetings.
If you have a query about Barnsley Beekeepers or beekeeping in general, please contact us using the email addresses below:
Membership enquiries: Secretary
Website enquiries: Webmaster
Asian Hornet Sightings: AHAT
Your patience in waiting for a reply is appreciated; our association is run by volunteers.