Although the sources for my research have been wide and numerous, there are five that I would particularly like to mention. A number of research organisations are involved in research into the Asian hornet in France. Sadly, an all too common theme of research papers has been to merely outline the problem, explain what limited research there is on the Asian hornet and to propose what further research is needed. Among these organisations the INRA stands out as one that is carrying out fieldwork and publishing research into trapping that is of real value to the beekeeper trying to formulate a plan of action.
From 2013 the ITSAP (Institut Technique et Scientifique de l’Abeille et de la Pollinisation) assumed the lead role in coordinating the official response to the Asian hornet. It has clearly felt it necessary to revalidate earlier field studies and so fresh trials on trapping were carried out in 2013 and 2014. Unfortunately, the trials proved inconclusive and further trials incorporating such measures as the ‘museliere’ and ‘harpe electrique’ are planned.
The AAAFA (Association Action AntiFrelon Asiatique) dedicates itself to spreading the word on the Asian hornet and tries to raise public awareness. Its winter 2016/17 conferences were held in Brittany and Normandy. Every ‘Departement’ in France has its beekeeping association. The insight that they provided was extremely helpful.
As might be expected, the Asian hornet has been the subject of much debate on French beekeeping forums and elsewhere. Oddly enough, afrenchgarden, a site that is not primarily a beekeeping blog, was one I found very useful. I was sorry to read in December that Kourosh and Amelia had lost one of their hives to the Asian hornet and it just underlined for me that even the best prepared will have casualties. Let us set our minds to the task We are in for a rough time with Vespa velutina and we will undoubtedly have to change some of the things we do now. Some of us will even have to consider whether we can keep bees in our garden at all when up to fifty hornets are hawking our hives. Actually 20–30 is more typical; that may be of little consolation, but we should not be disheartened. As I hope I have shown, the Asian hornet is not invincible and better traps with more targeted baits are in the pipeline. Furthermore, our French beekeeping colleagues have shown remarkable ingenuity over the last twelve years and a dogged determination to fight this predator. Should we do anything less?
My aim is met. I now have my plan of action and the full suite of weapons are in the armoury. Whether you adopt my plan is for you to decide but doing nothing will prove not to be an option.
Andrew Durham, Cambridgeshire BKA
wbka.uk would like to thank Andrew Duncan and BBKA News for giving us permission to reproduce this piece of research here