• Site updated 07/11/2018

Jersey Asian Hornet Emergency

10 Comments

  1. Copy of a letter from:-
    Nigel C Errington
    States of Jersey Asian Hornet Co-ordinatorDear All

    I have just been sitting down with John DC and we have gone through the data base to confirm we have all the required information currently available.

    We can confirm / update you that we have actually found / destroyed / Prevented for a total of 52 nests this year.

    This includes Trapped founder queens, Primary nests that would have developed into secondary nests and Secondary nests.

    Basing this on research figures we can be proud of our achievements to date and have prevented the following numbers:

    52 nests would have produce between 10,400 queens (this is based on the lower figure generally accepted of 200 queens produced by each nest)
    Considering the high winter mortality of queens and if only 2.5 % survived the winter
    This would have given Jersey 260 potential nests next year.

    Based on 260 nests having an average hornet content at high season of 6000 per nest per year this would have produced a hornet count over the year of circa 1.5M hornets.

    Each Hornet starts life as a Grub who only eats Protein, in the form of Pollinators. At the generally accepted rate of =>10 per day each.

    Only a mathematician can see the impact this would have over a year on the local pollinators.

    Very well done everyone.
    Regards
    Nigel C Errington
    States of Jersey Asian Hornet Co-ordinator
    States of Jersey, Natural Environment
    Growth, Housing and the Environment,
    Howard Davis Farm, La Route de la Trinité,
    Trinity, Jersey, JE3 5JP

  2. Sunday 26th Aug

    I am now getting bulletins from Judy Collins who has been appointed Jersey Coordinator for Volunteers and here is her latest:

    Hi Folks

    One nest found by accident today – a gardener near to where a hedge was being cut near First Tower happened to be close enough to a hornet nest in the hedge and was stung on the face. He went into anaphylactic shock and was taken to A&E for treatment. Apparently he has now been released. He was lucky other people were around and knew enough first aid to know what was happening. The nest has already been treated and is being removed this evening.

    The nest on mid-Queen’s rd continues to be elusive – Peter Kennedy had another go this morning to radio-track the 2 tagged hornets released yesterday. Found one dead on grass near to where she had been last night – presumably exhausted. The other is nowhere to be found – Peter suspects that either her tag has ceased working or possibly she made it back to the nest and a sister chewed off the aerial!!

    Hornet trackers in the st Martin area reckon they are close as flight times between bait stations and nest are very short. This may be the next area to target – to be confirmed

    Traps have been set near Granite Products and are being monitored.

    New Hornet Sightings
    – Near Maison Deloraine

    That seems to be all – but the weather may have been against us today; it has turned much cooler and some heavy showers have occurred
    Tomorrow and Monday are forecast warmer and sunnier – better for both hornets and hornet hunters!!

    Best Regards

    Judy Collins
    Jersey Hornets Coordinator

  3. Yeah OK I got it wrong ……it was ITV who had the camera crew there!

    So here is a link to the ITV video:

    https://www.itv.com/news/channel/2018-08-17/asian-hornet-nest-destroyed-in-jersey/

  4. Friday AUG 17th 13:41

    As I write Judith Norman and Gerry Stuart, both from Torbay AHAT are standing by a large oak tree near the reservoir on Jersey while a cherry picker lifts tree surgeons into the tree to cut off a branch which will give access to the enormous Asian Hornet nest found in the tree by Judith.

    Bob Hogge and his team will attempt to cut away the nest whole and live, and lower it to the ground, from where it wil be taken to a remote place. Here they will kill off the mobile insects and dissect the nest to ascertain its stage of development in order to determine if it is about to produce the next generation of founding queens. This is vital information which will tell the Jersey beekeepers how long they have to find most, if not all, of the Hornet nests from where this insect is plaguing the island, before the new generation of queens fly to find suitable places to hibernate for the coming winter.

    A TV crew is on hand to record the event for BBC Channel Island News which may be seen on the UK mainland by switching to ch 951 on Freesat or ch 968 on SKY services.

    Good luck to the Jersey team with this adventurous undertaking.

    Colin Lodge

  5. Bob Hogge writing 00:11 today, Thursday 16th Aug

    Well, 3 nests in 2 days can’t be bad and Handois one is huge. We now have 3 volunteers from the mainland with more expected next week and the week after, it would be great if they could meet as many of the parish teams as possible as they are keen to hear your opinions and experiences. I am hoping that they will see what is being done in every parish and they are willing to help where they can.
    The first group have been lucky with the searches they have done and Judith Norman from Devon found ONE today high in an oak tree that we must have looked in dozens of times but then it is well known that people from Devon are …………….modesty forbids me from continuing.
    After John’s appeal for volunteers we have beeN inundated with offers from home and abroad and in my opinion they are a valuable resource that we can use to boost search teams, provide backup services and numerous other taskS that we can’t get round to because of having lives to lead .
    But, and it’s a big but, it will come to nothing if we don’t have a coordinator to keep the wheels turning do you know of anyone who can help us?
    Without one we bumble along but with them we will become focused bees.
    Bob

  6. 15th Aug 2018 Judith’s latest message:

    Colin, no wifi here, so in haste typing off line and then off down dark country lane to pick up neighbours’ wifi.

    Hornets are being hunted here with bait, not looking for hawking. It is called Sutera, or some name like that – no wifi to check right now. It also attracts wasps by the million but hornets are very easy to spot amongst them.

    Just thinking you may want to consider each member taking a small bottle of it home and soak a piece of kitchen paper in a bowl, and place it where it is convenient to watch from a chair, somewhere that the buzzing wasp cloud won’t bother other people. I have been marking hornets here – no gloves needed, just a queen catcher with the sponge on a stick. They come to the bait very readily if they are in the area. Did you see the footage of Bob Hodges with the bait on the over turned bucket?
    Must get some sleep. Hope to get wifi tmrw.

    Judith

    • 15th Aug Have just received this message from Bob Hogge originally to all his Jersey colleagues But I get copied in:

      Lo all,
      We are now at the start of the race against time to find as many AH nest a s possible before the emergence of the queens some time in September, please note that we don’t know when so mid September is reasonable guess as are all the the things I say about AH.
      The Situation as of this morning is that we have activity in most parishes with some such as St Saviour’s and St Brelade’s reporting most.
      I suspect that there might be some under reporting and as they become more visible on flowers such as early Camellias and ivy other parishes will have more sightings.
      Dr Peter Kennedy of Exeter University arrived on the Island to continue his research on radio tracking AH Sunday night and was already setting up on Monday morning when we had a meeting to consider priorities. Amazingly the top 2, Les Cinq Chenes, St Saviour and St Aubin’s Village were identified on Tuesday. Admittedly St Aubin was from reports from the general public but Les Cinq Chenes is due to the hardwork and diligence of St Saviour’s team who tracked the hornets to within sight of the nest. It was a bit sneeky I know but in the final hours they were working alongside Peter’s team but didn’t tell him where the nest was. However, Peter rose to the Challenge and confirmed the location with radio tagged hornet.
      2 in one day is pretty impressive but there were weeks of work involved in finding the Cinq Chenes nest and that was with help from the St Martin and Grouville teams. It’s that cooperation between teams that I think will be important in successes as single teams quickly become overwhelmed if there is more than one sighting to investigate.
      John de Carteret’s appeal for more volunteers has been very successful and hopefully you might soon have reinforcements but the larger numbers and the increasing number of AH reports are becoming unmanageable and need more organisation than John and I can manage efficiently and so we are looking for someone to act as a coordinator. Any takers?
      For the next few weeks our numbers will also be boosted by beekeepers from the UK who are eager to see what we are doing and learn the Jersey Method ( a copy of which is attached) I hope that you will get a chance to meet some of them and give them your opinions and experiences so that they have some idea of how you think it’s going.
      I would also like you have the opportunity to work with Peter and I hope some of you will get the chance to train to be radio trackers as I think this will be an important weapon in our armoury.
      Now I have run out of time so more later, Bob Hogge

    • 22:13hrs 15th Aug.

      I have heard from Nigel Semmence who wants to set up a meeting with Ken Basterfield (as a BKA representative) and me, to talk over some form of cooperation protocol between AHATs and NBU. I have told Judith this and asked her to gather every bit of knowledge and evidence which will help us all in the work of identifying, tracking and dealing with nests.

      Here is tonight’s report from Jersey:

      Subject: Suits

      Colin I have not seen a bee suit since I got here except for once when we were dashing to some possible nest site and had a call to fetch a lovely swarm on the way.

      Wasps come to the bait in HUGE numbers. Sometimes there is hardly space for a big hornet to land. At first I felt apprehensive about getting close; now I pick up the saucer of wasps when we pack up and move stations and shake them off! No gloves/ suit. The only sting I got was out of the blue while talking on the phone on the other side of the field.

      We have had two days in a row where the radio trackers have been pipped at the post by us spotting the nest before they do, led by our timing information, not by them.

      No beekeeping experience needed. Obviously each person would need to shadow others at a station before setting up on their own. I think a good volunteer setup would be teams of say six, with one being a beekeeper used to marking queens. Three pairs set up stations in a triangle, and the beekeeper marks the hornets. Easy with a queen catcher: the cylinder with mesh one end, open other end, and a sponge plunger on a stick. Need stopwatches.

      We have not had teams like that – not enough people, so the pairs just move around. Once you have rapid return trips, under a minute and a half, and you have seen good views of direction in which they fly from the bait, then you can start closing in with binoculars. That is the tricky bit! When nest found, mark the tree, get GPS if available, and call the pest control company. They need special thick suits and eye protection – nest is vigorously defended even though they can be handled so easily away from the nest. If you mark it clearly you don’t have to go back to show them the nest. They may take a few days to get there.

      We will need OS maps and another helpful thing is to have A3 printout maps from Google Pro. Then you can mark where your stations are and the flight directions and times, so someone else can pick up from where you left off, the next day.

      Coordinators are key.

      Other thoughts – learn from my mistakes and avoid sunscreen. Perhaps an umbrella sun shade instead. Water bottles and sandwiches. Extra water for hand rinsing in case of spilling Suterra. A sealed bucket for putting soaked bait paper when moving or no longer needed. Suterra is expensive so keep the used bits for next day. Can dilute with syrup once they have found it and no longer use only scent to return. Wasps eat most of the
      Suterra.
      Sorry Colin that this is a bit haphazard. No wifi here and hurrying to get to where it is available.
      Judith

  7. To Keep up to date with how Jersey Beekeeper are /coping with the hornets go to:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1870958566469446/

    Some of the posts are making me think about what we face if we can’t keep AH out of the UK

    Colin Lodge

  8. Judith Norman reports:-
    Am doing a preliminary update before the meeting this morning in case I don’t have wifi tonight.
    Sunday I spent the day with Bob Hogge. He is interested in learning what he can about Asian hornet behaviour, but admits to thinking Jersey is already a lost cause. He views this as an opportunity to experiment with different approaches to tracking flight paths and locating nests.

    John de Carteret is a retired forensic photographer whose interest is documenting evidence. He has made extensive videos, published on his Facebook page, and uses GPS to make detailed maps of both identified nests and clusters of confirmed hornet sightings. John has a great sense of the urgency of the situation and fears an exponential increase in number of nests, as has happened in France and Spain. Therefore he has put huge effort into locating nests in order to eradicate them. He has spent hours every day since March and has felt obliged to take on the fielding of calls from the public about possible hornets being spotted. He is keen to return to his recording work, but in the absence of anyone else coordinating the efforts, he is racing about doing much of it himself, and directing some small groups of beekeepers who have volunteered to help with confirming sightings and trying to do some tracking.

    The dept of environment staff take calls in office hours but pass them directly to him anyway! They are not participating in confirming sightings, nor in tracking down nests. When beekeepers have tracked down nests, the dept of environment call a pest control company who destroy the nest usually within a week.
    I have spent some time with John trying to unpick what is needed to bring about some control over the Asian hornet population explosion. The biggest need is for a coordinator. The roles of the coordinator would be to:
    – respond to calls about hornet sightings,
    – inform the beekeeping teams of the possible sightings,
    – collate a map of confirmed sightings,
    – raise public awareness of hornets
    – seek volunteers (who do NOT need to be beekeepers)
    – instruct volunteers in the chosen method of tracking flight paths, eg with bait stations and timers
    – collaborate with beekeepers including Bob and John and provide them with teams of, say six, volunteers each, on agreed days, to undertake sessions of tracking.
    Bob and John both agree that the most efficient way of tracking is probably by setting up bait stations in triangles and estimating where three flight paths intersect. This needs six volunteers, one of whom should be a beekeeper or other person who can mark hornets. Three pairs each watch the marked hornets and use stop watches to time their leaving and returning. (It is complicated by the fact that each bait station may be visited by hornets from several nests. Also, the direction in which they are seen to leave the bait station may not point towards the nest: they may fly along hedges etc and confound the observer. Some also fly up into trees to clean their sticky syrupy legs before setting out back to the nest.)

    At the moment the big deficiency is in coordination. Neither Bob nor John feel that it is likely that any government department will help them with this. Without it, their enormous efforts are not sustainable, and not achieving anywhere near the reduction in nest numbers that is needed to control the explosion in hornet population that is occurring.

    The other big deficiency is in volunteers, but it seems to me a coordinator would be able to muster these. The Facebook page has frequent offers of help, but the beekeepers are too busy firefighting to spend the time organising and instructing any volunteers. While I was out on Sunday, local people approached us and expressed an interest and some were very enthusiastic about the idea that they could learn how to monitor a bait station with a stopwatch and contribute to tracking down nests. I found it quite fun: watching out for “your” colour marked hornet to return was like a game.

    I’m not sure that a coordinator could interpret the timings though; converting the timings into distance estimates would be more in the line of Bob to work out.

    At the meeting this morning I will try to engage the government reps but am concerned about alienating them by sounding critical and pushing them into a defensive position. They may well simply not care, because they think it it is too late, or because honey production is not economically important to the island, and pollination is not perceived to be important because potatoes don’t need pollinators.

    Just remembered: there is a contribution that the govt dept makes: they supply bottles of a commercially produced bait mixture.
    I have read about prawns as a suggested bait; interestingly this morning one reporter of a hornet sighting had had a sudden influx of hornets when they topped up their bait station with some lobster water left over from boiling up their dinner! Bob, ever the scientist, retrieved the lobster heads from the bin and took them home to experiment and confirm the observation.

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