Asian Hornet



Asian Hornet in the UK

December 2023

In 2023 there have been 72 Asian hornet nests found in 56 locations across 10 counties.  It has been difficult to keep up with the details with most days bringing an increase in the number of sightings.  Currently, however, West Sussex is apparently free from the hornet.

A number of members recently joined Hampshire Beekeepers at their Asian hornet conference near Winchester.  It was a day of discussion and reflection on the past season and will no doubt influence our own strategy for dealing with the Asian hornet in 2024.  Graphs below courtesy of the BBKA—a chilling reminder of what may lie ahead! 

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Further sightings in Kent are the most recent. However, the NBU surveillance has now been closed down for this year with the current season drawing to a close.

Analysis of nests this autumn has confirmed the presence of gynes and drones in some nests. Gynes have also been identified from lone samples. The NBU are skilled at tracking, locating, and destroying nests, but can only respond to sightings with sufficient evidence, such as a photograph or sample.

Credible reports are continuing to decrease and are often related to an incident the NBU are already aware of.  The NBU are continuing surveillance in the Kent area and post-destruction monitoring of nest sites.  Tenterden and Deal have been added to the sightings recently and a number of sites in Kent continue to be monitored. 

    Defra sightings map October 2023Defra sightings map Oct23

September 2023

The NBU responded to a credible sighting of Asian hornet in Thamesmead on the 20th August.  A nest was located and destroyed.

Recently the NBU located single nests in Dover, Rochester, St Margaret’s Bay and nests in a third Maidstone location.  Active operations have also been initiated at a site in Folkstone and near Caterbury.   On 24th August a credible sighting has been reported just to the north east of Oxford.  A site in Plymouth is also being monitored.     

Inspectors carried out enhanced surveillance in the Dover district in response to two confirmed sightings of Asian hornets (Vespa velutina) in July.  This took confirmed sightings to 9 this year.  Both incidents reported to the NBU involved a single hornet, one on 1st July and a second on 17th July by local beekeepers.  NBU Inspectors collected the samples which were sent to Fera who confirmed the specimens were Vespa velutina. 

On 20th July there was a sighting in Gravesend in Kent.  A small primary nest was located and destroyed.  A possible sighting two days later in Plymouth has not been confirmed.

On Thursday 22nd June a small primary nest of Asian hornets was reported to the NBU.  A National Bee Unit Inspector investigated the report and collected samples which have been sent for analysis by scientists.  Traps have been set for hornets returning to the nest site, and follow up activities will take place to raise awareness.

This is the earliest date in the season that a nest has ever been found in Great Britain.  Nests have previously been reported in the autumn, when insects are more visible as the population of the nest increases to its maximum.

The NBU has reported two further sightings of the Asian hornet during May.  The first was on 18th May near Ashford in Kent.   This has been identified as a single hornet incursion.  The second was on 28th May in Canterbury and this is being investigated.

On Thursday 13th April the National Bee Unit received a credible Asian hornet sighting from Folkestone, Kent.  The following week the National Bee Unit received a credible Asian hornet sighting with a photo taken on the deck of a ferry from Poole, Dorset to Cherbourg on 10th April 2023.  An earlier sighting had been made in Northumberland in a cauliflower from France.  Since then, further credible descriptive sightings have been forwarded without photos.


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Further Information & Reporting Structure

Further information regarding the Asian hornet can be found on Defra's Asian Hornet sightings page and on the BeeBase Asian hornet page. Please direct all media enquiries to the Defra Press Office: 0330 0416560.

Use the ‘Asian hornet Watch’ app for Android and Iphone to report sightings.  Members are asked to remain vigilant for this predator in our region.  It may be seen hawking at the entrance to hives.  Traps may be set up in the apiary and this video shows how to make your own.For a full description of the Asian honet and its comparison to our  native hornet view this document: 

Any sightings should be reported to the non-native species team at: [email protected] and an Asian Hornet Watch app is available to download to your phone.  There is also a map on the BBKA website with your nearest Asian hornet team member - 

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