Beekeepers from across the south west are getting ready to tackle the imminent threat of deadly Asian hornets ahead of the coming season following a training day held in Somerset, writes Amy Cole.

Organised by Somerset and Devon Beekeepers’ Associations on behalf of the South West Beekeepers’ Forum, 150 beekeepers have returned to their beekeeping associations armed with the latest techniques to combat the insect which could decimate honeybees and other pollinators.

Somerset’s Asian hornet action team co-ordinator Lynne Ingram said: “We are on the Asian hornet frontline here in the south west and this training day was a great opportunity to prepare ourselves for the season ahead.

“Asian hornets don’t respect boundaries so it was important to start preparing to work together across the region. Although it was mainly beekeepers who attended the event, one of the key messages to get across is that Asian hornets are not just a problem for beekeepers.

“We now know that these hornets build nests in garden hedges, bramble patches, in holes in the ground and also on buildings. We will be working hard to educate the public so that everyone can recognise a hornet and report a sighting. With thousands of people looking out for them, we have some chance of slowing the invasion.”

Read more: BBKA calls on farmers to help with search for Asian hornets

The day-long programme included presentations about the latest research from Dr Peter Kennedy of the University of Exeter and Alastair Christie, Jersey’s Asian hornet coordinator, who shared his experience tracking the non-native hornets on the Channel Islands.

Asian hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) have distinctive orange faces, yellow tipped legs and are smaller than the bright yellow striped European hornet. They are a notifiable invasive species and sightings should be reported immediately via the Asian Hornet Watch phone app or by emailing asianhornet@somersetbeekeepers.org.uk or altertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk.