New app launched to save honey bees from 'invasive species'

Pest of honeybees, the 'Asian hornet' represents a worrying time for bee farmers and beekeepers
Pest of honeybees, the 'Asian hornet' represents a worrying time for bee farmers and beekeepers

A new app is being launched that will allow people to report sightings of an invasive species which represents a 'significant threat' to honey bees.

Defra announced the discovery of an 'Asian hornet' at a supermarket distribution centre in Scotland earlier this month.

An outbreak in Gloucestershire last autumn was contained by the government's quick response.

Now experts at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology are about to launch a new, free app to make the process easier.



Defra’s deputy director for plant and bee health, Nicola Spence, said: "We have been anticipating the arrival of the Asian hornet for some years and have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.

"It is important to remember they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, though we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies.



"That’s why we take swift and robust action to identify and destroy any nests."

'Worrying time'

The hornet arrived in France in 2004 and is now common across large areas of Europe.

It was discovered for the first time in Jersey and Alderney this summer. It was believed the species will not be able survive in the North of the UK due to colder winters.

NFU acting chief horticulture adviser Chris Hartfield said the first finding of this "new serious" pest of honeybees represents a "worrying time" for bee farmers and beekeepers.

"Robust control measures are already in place, so let’s hope it’s a limited outbreak that can be quickly contained and controlled," said Mr Hartfield.