With the potential to wipe out a bee colony in just two hours, the Asian hornet Vespa velutina nigrithorax is a real threat to the UK bee population. The Asian menace has spread throughout France and Spain and is heading towards UK shores.
This pest which is dark-bodied, yellow-legged, and up to 3cm long, was introduced to Europe in 2004 via a shipment of pots imported from China. With its favourite food being the honey bee, the implications of an infestation could be disastrous.
The nature of these pests means they are unlikely to be easily eradicated and could cause considerable problems for the bee population. The British Beekeeping Association is preparing for the worst and is on red alert while they await the arrival of this menace.
Not only are they a real threat to the bee population, people are at risk too. In one year, seven people were taken to hospital after being stung by this hornet. Should the bee population be wiped out, it is estimated that the UK economy could suffer a yearly blow of £1.7bn.
The average person may come across the Asian Hornet and not notice the difference, or register the implications this pest could have on the country. To be completely honest before joining Rentokil, I struggled with the difference between a wasp and a bee! It is therefore important that we warn people of the danger, that way we can all contribute to identifying this pest and saving the UK bee population from a potential wipe-out.