The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) is urging bee keepers to report sightings of the highly invasive Asian hornet.

The Asian hornet, Vespa velutina, (pictured above with its distinctive yellow legs), was first identified in France in 2004. It was first confirmed in the UK in Tetbury in 2016. At 6 September 2023, a total of 37 nests had been identified this year in 29 locations in southern England and one in Northumberland. You can access the National Bee Unit’s Rolling Updates for more information at

In autumn, each nest will be producing an average of 350 potential gynes (queens) and male hornets for mating. After the mating period, the newly fertilised queens will leave the nest and find somewhere suitable to overwinter before beginning to build up their new colonies in the spring.

Keep an eye open for this invasive pest. It is no more dangerous to humans than a wasp but it can devastate honey bee colonies. It is slightly smaller than our European hornet and has distinctive yellow legs –  European hornets’ legs are brown. The Asian hornet has a black body with a yellow segment at the end of its abdomen. European hornets are black/brown on the top of the thorax with a yellow abdomen.

European hornet

European hornets (pictured here) have brown legs unlike the Asian hornet which has distinctive yellow legs.

The BBKA held two Zoom sessions in September, led by Andrew Durham who has been studying the Asian hornet in France for over nine years. Recordings are available:

Part one:

Part two:

Further resources are available on the BBKA website: and

If you think you have seen an Asian hornet, notify the Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) immediately. Report sightings through the free Asian Hornet Watch app, online at, or email:

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