Alien Species and Pests Alert for Beekeepers in Ireland

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, DAFM is responsible for Apiculture in Ireland.
https://www.gov.ie/ga/foilsiuchan/9e1ff-beekeeping-honey/

DAFM, states on its website,

“The beekeeping sector is regulated by EU and national legislation. Under this legislation, bees are subject to veterinary inspection for certain notifiable pests and diseases. Currently these are American Foul Brood Disease (AFB), European Foul Brood Disease (EFB), Small Hive Beetle (SHB) and the Tropilaelaps mite. To ensure compliance with the legislation, the beekeeper is required to contact DAFM at beekeeping@agriculture.gov.ie and submit samples if any one of above mentioned notifiable pests or diseases are suspected or diagnosed. AFB and EFB frequently occur in Irish honey bee colonies and details on how to take a sample for AFB and EFB testing are given in the guidance document below. To date, SHB and Tropilaelaps spp. have not been reported in Ireland, however beekeepers need to remain vigilant and throughout the active season continuously monitor for both species. Information sheets and identification details for both species are given in the fact sheets below.

The Asian Hornet is not a notifiable pest, however it is a serious pest not only for honey bee colonies but also for all wild bee populations. It arrived in Europe in 2004, but since then has successfully reproduced in many European countries including the UK. DAFM has been continuously monitoring for this pest as part of a broader surveillance programme since 2016. The first discovery in Ireland of a live specimen of Asian Hornet occurred on the 25th of April 2021. The press release of this sighting can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/63eaf-npws-confirms-first-discovery-of-a-live-specimen-asian-hornet-in-ireland/. There is no evidence that the Asian Hornet is established in Ireland at this time.

Beekeepers should actively monitor their own area and locality for the Asian hornet, especially during the active season. The fact sheet below will assist beekeepers in the identification of this species. If a sighting of the Asian hornet is suspected, please contact DAFM at beekeeping@agriculture.gov.ie and if possible include a photograph. All suspect specimens should be submitted to DAFM, Plant Health Laboratories for confirmation.”

Asian Hornet – Vespa Velutina Nigrithorax

Asian hornet

PLEASE FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH THE APPEARANCE OF ASIAN HORNET

The image here is courtesy of Somerset Beekeepers.

The Asian hornet is not known to be present in Ireland but please become familiar with its identity and if you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet please report it immediately to the National Biodiversity Data Centre with a photo to the Biodiversity Data capture app. or https://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/invasives

Local beekeepers will be aware of this insect and can assist the public if sighted.

In May of 2023, the local government in the Cherbourg area of FRANCE confirmed the presence of just under 10,000 Asian Hornet nests in Cherbourg. Ireland has four weekly summer ferry crossings with Cherbourg. We can definitely expect to see the arrival of some opportunistic AH Queens, piggybacking on human transport. We know from European experiences that it is very good at doing this, showing up in locations where it has not been noted previously. (Truck depots etc)

Beekeepers will probably be the first to detect the presence of a nest with numbers of the hornet attracted to apiaries for a plentiful supply of food, honey bees, and so we propose that beekeeping groups around the country be formed into Asian Hornet action groups, primed to act appropriately when an Asian Hornet is recorded. The awareness that this has created has worked successfully in the GB and Jersey. Existing networks such as the IBA and NIHBS, FIBKA, and UBKA could be used for networking for this purpose. An existing network such as the NIHBS Queen Rearing groups is an example that could act as an alert and ensure a prompt and swift reaction to a positive sighting, working hand in hand with the department and NPWS.

PLEASE FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH THE APPEARANCE OF THE ASIAN HORNET.

Beekeepers on the island of Ireland, are only too aware of the pressure that pollinating insects and honey bees face now. The arrival of the Asian Hornet in the isle of Ireland might be the ultimate final pressure on these beneficial insects, from which there is no recovery. Prof Maside in his webinar to the Irish beekeepers, tells us that only 30% of the flying population has existed since the end of the last century.

We owe it to future generations to ensure we do what we can now, to protect our native biodiversity, our fruit and food crops, the public, as well as our native Irish honey bees. For this reason, the Irish Beekeepers’ Association CLG has been in contact to coordinate with other beekeeping organisations and the DAFM, to put such an alert network into being. Further information is available from pro@irishbeekeepers.ie

We are grateful to Prof Xulio Maside, University of Santiago and Co-ordinator of the Atlantic Positive Project for the Webinar he recently presented to Irish Beekeepers. This is available to view on the Atlantic Positive Project website and the Irish Beekeepers’ Association Clg Youtube channel, link here https://www.youtube.com/@irishbeekeepersassociation7135

WLR fm-Waterford Local Radio podcast
https://www.wlrfm.com/podcasts/deise-today/waterford-beekeepers-highlight-threat-of-asian-hornet-arrival-309979

Mooney Goes Wild, RTE Radio 1 podcast
https://www.rte.ie/radio/radio1/clips/22227023/

National Biodiversity Data Centre https://species.biodiversityireland.ie/profile.php?taxonId=187087&taxonName=vespa%20velutina

How can you help

  • Become familiar with the identification features of the Asian hornet
  • Report suspected sightings in Ireland with a photograph through this online form https://records.biodiversityireland.ie/record/invasives or the Biodiversity Data capture app.
  • Report suspected sightings in Northern Ireland via The Asian Hornet Watch app; the CEDaR online recording form; at iRecord or call the Non-Native Invasive Species Team at the Northern Ireland Environment Agency – Tel: 028 9056 9558
  • If you have an apiary and concerns for bee health, contact the Horticulture and Plant Health Unit of DAFM. E-mail: beekeeping@agriculture.gov.ie
  • If you are travelling to countries with established populations of Asian hornet please be mindful to check your belongings and vehicles before returning for any possible ‘hitchhiker’ species. In Europe, Asian hornet is present in many countries including France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and some of the Channel Islands, and is spreading rapidly. See the DAFM Don’t Risk It Campaign.
  • It is important that there should not be an overreaction to sightings of other large insects such as wood wasps and native social wasps. It is imperative other species are not targeted, disrupted, or destroyed on foot by this discovery of one Asian hornet individual.
  • For general queries or information relating to invasive alien species, email the NPWS at ias@housing.gov.ie and see National Parks & Wildlife Service (npws.ie)

Asian Hornet Alert Group

The IBAclg operates an Asian Hornet Alert Whatsapp group. To date, we have not had to use the system.

You are welcome to join the group by submitting your details to in the form below.  We only add mobile phone numbers with the prefix +353. (Landlines or non-IRE numbers will be ignored). The number provided needs to be associated with a Whatsapp account.