Invasive Asian Hornet Establishes Itself in UK

( – A record number of hornet’s nests have been found in the UK amid warnings from conservationists that they could threaten the native bee population. Biology professor Dave Goulson said the numbers are so high that the situation is impossible to reverse. In 2021 and 2022, there were only two sightings of nests per year – that has risen to 22 this year. The government strategy is to find and destroy nests, but experts warn that this won’t reverse the impact, even if all nests were located.

“If even one nest evades detection and reproduces, it will then probably become impossible to prevent them establishing,” Mr. Goulson said.

The Asian hornet, in high numbers, places bee populations in peril. The creatures feed on bees and wait outside beehives to trap them as they come and go. First spotted in Europe in 2004, the hornets are believed to have traveled to the continent in cargo ships. They have since established themselves in France and crossed the English Channel to the UK.

National Geographic warned in 2020 that the Asian hornet, identifiable by its large size and orange face, had arrived in the United States the previous year. First spotted in Blaine, Washington, investigations revealed that the largest hornet in the world – almost 2 inches long – was now residing in America. Scientists warned that the US bee populations were at risk and already declining.

The bee population has reduced by around 4% over the past decade. Experts say it would be higher if new colonies were not intentionally created by humans introducing new Queens. The main causes of bee decline are pesticides, parasites, and habitat loss. The small but productive creature is responsible for pollinating 80% of flowering plants, generating $15 billion in agricultural produce every year. In addition, they produce food for wildlife, maintain the health of soil, and help keep water clean.

There are over 20,000 species of bee in the world and 4,000 in the United States.

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