Vita has donated eight ApiShield Asian hornet traps to a group of Gloucestershire beekeepers to help establish how far the latest threat to honey bees has spread in Britain.
Vita’s ApiShield traps replace existing hive floors and attract hornets, wasps and even robber bees in by side entrances where they become trapped under a wire mesh and cannot exit through the cone entrances. Meanwhile, the honeybee colony uses and protects the front entrance to the hive. Beekeepers can periodically inspect the traps to see if any Asian hornets have been caught.
Peter Lead of the Stroud Beekeepers’ Association said: “We have installed two ApiShield traps in our Association apiary and are distributing the others for use in the area. Last year, our Association apiary was plagued by a lot of wasps and, even after a few days, the ApiShields have already trapped a substantial number. There is no sign of the Asian hornet yet, but we are inspecting regularly. I particularly like the Vita hornet trap because, unlike bait lures, it is not adding an additional enticement for wasps and hornets to enter the apiary.”
Unlike the native European hornet (Vespa crabro), the Asian Hornet hornet (Vespa velutina) poses a very serious threat to honeybees. Native to China, this hornet arrived in a pottery consignment in Bordeaux, France in 2004. Since then the hornets have devastated honeybee colonies in many parts of France and have spread into Belgium, NW Spain, N Portugal, Italy, Germany and now the UK. Smaller than the European hornet, the Asian hornet poses no new threat to humans.
On 20 September 2016, the National Bee Unit announced that an Asian hornet had been discovered near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, the first sighting of the invasive honeybee pest in the UK. A nest was soon discovered in the area and destroyed, but hopes that this was a one-off incident were dashed when, on 4 October, another Asian hornet was discovered about 60km away in the Mendips in Somerset.
Dr Max Watkins of Vita (Europe) Ltd, explained: “The Asian hornets’ mode of attack is highly organised. In the summer a few hornets terrorise honeybee colonies by picking them off one by one as they return to the hive. Faced with this threat, the honeybees eventually stay home for safety, but then become weak through starvation or disease. At the end of the season more Asian hornets arrive and swoop en masse to invade the hive and devour the bees and the hive contents.”
Dr Watkins continued: “In the current situation, the best case scenario is that the two sightings are isolated, unrelated incidents, but this seems unlikely because there is 60km between sightings. The fear is that the hornet entered the country some time ago and has already spread and become established in a few areas. While destroying nests is certainly a good plan, mated queens may already be on the wing preparing for winter. That would mean that we can expect more next year unless the winter or spring are particularly unsuitable for the hornet in its new environment.”
Vita (Europe) Limited is a mite control and honeybee health specialist. It is the world’s largest dedicated supplier of honeybee health products to the honey and pollination industries. With a rigorous and ethical approach to research and development into honeybee health, Vita has no commercial interests in crop pesticides or crop breeding that may be harmful to honeybees.
Vita researches, develops, and manufactures a range of honeybee health products. Its headquarters are in the UK, it has offices in Italy, France and Russia, and partners across the globe. These products are marketed internationally through a network of 60 distributors in 50 countries.
Vita’s honeybee health product range includes anti-varroa acaricides – Apistan® (outside the USA/Canada) and Apiguard® – chalkbrood and wax moth controls, foulbrood diagnostic kits and health-promoting feeds. Vita also supplies Asian hornet traps, Small Hive Beetle traps and swarm lures. Vita products have been registered by more than 60 veterinary authorities.
Vita promotes sustainable beekeeping through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Its treatments are designed to inhibit the build-up of resistance and wherever possible contain natural compounds and biological controls that are benign to all but the target pests.
Vita invests a very high proportion of its turnover in research and development. Research partners include universities such as Thessaloniki, Cardiff, Milan, Udine and Naples and institutes such as the FERA Laboratories in the UK and the USDA in America. Vita’s innovative research and development work has been recognised by and has received support from the UK Government.
As a result of its primary research of natural control agents, Vita is currently engaged in new projects exploring mite control in the agriculture, veterinary, and horticulture industries as well as public health and human allergen control.
Stephen Fleming at Palam Communications
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