Asian Hornets

The Asian Hornet (vespa velutina) is an invasive, non-native hornet to the UK. They are highly aggressive predators of our native insects and pose a real threat to honey bees and pollinators. Originally from Asia, they were accidentally introduced to France in 2004 and spread rapidly. A number of sightings have been recorded in the UK since 2016. It’s important that any new sightings are reported immediately.

How to spot an Asian Hornet:

  • They have a dark brown or black velvety body;
  • They have a yellow or orange band on fourth segment of abdomen;
  • They have yellow tipped legs;
  • They are smaller than the native European Hornet; and
  • They are not active at night.

Can you recognise an Asian Hornet?

It is important for people to be able to recognise the difference between the native European Hornet, which lives reasonably happily with honey bees, and the Asian Hornet which can easily devastate colonies in a very short time. The Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) guides below show the key ID features of Asian Hornets and similar species that could be wrongly identified as Asian Hornets. 

To find out more, view this useful video on Youtube from Martyn Hocking:

What to do if you spot an Asian Hornet

Report all sightings, preferably with a photo, to

You can also use the Asian Hornet Watch mobile phone app to report sightings with a GPS location  and identify different species easily confused with the hornet such as the European Hornet, Giant Wood Wasp and the Hornet Hoverfly.

Download the Asian Hornet Watch app:

Google Play iTunes

Asian Hornet – Be Vigilant Everyone!

As beekeepers we need to be able to identify the Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina) as it could decimate our UK pollinators. This Asian Hornet (AH) is a highly effective predator of insects, including our own honeybees and other beneficial species.  It could cause significant losses to your colonies, and potentially other native species.  

Credit: Jean Hazaire (

We all need to familiarise ourselves to inform and educate the public, understand what to actively look out for, its appearance (Yellow legs) when compared to other insects (which generally have black legs) and know what to do if an Asian Hornet is suspected or sighted.

Possible Asian Hornet sighting – What Next?  

Report any suspected sighting immediately by using the Asian Hornet Watch App available free downloaded for free for Android via Google Play, for iOS via iTunes, alternatively using the Online (RISC) Form, or by sending an email to including a photograph and location details.  Then advise your local AHAT lead, the details and actions taken, BBKA AHAT Map – but don’t hesitate to report using Asian Hornet Watch App.


Vigilance is particularly required from the spring, as Asian hornets become active mainly between April and November (peak August/September, hawking hive and on ripe fruit) and is inactive over the winter; although, in the winter months nests in deciduous trees may become visible.  Do not under any circumstances disturb or provoke an active hornets’ nest, as they can become defensive to movement with five metres (16 feet) of the site.  

Asian hornet arrived in France in 2004 where it spread rapidly across Europe. Sighting have been recorded in the UK since 2016, find the latest information on Defra’s AH News (

Further information on local Asian Hornet Action Teams (SBKA / BBKA):

AHAT Website – Test your knowledge, take an online course to help beekeepers and members of the public become aware of the Asian hornet.

BBKA Asian Hornet Team Map – Identify your local AHT leader and AHT Coordinators, to arrange assistance with the identification of suspected AH sightings or leads, getting a photograph and reporting the sighting immediately.

AHT Coordinator – Interested in becoming a member of the local AHAT member then discuss with your Local branch BKA AHAT Lead, what the role entails and registration to the team.

Useful resources:

NBU Guidance for beekeepers (BeeBase)

AH Awareness and Identification Booklet (PDF)

NNSS Alert Sheet (PDF)   

NNSS ID Sheet (PDF)  

NNSS General Facts & Data Maps

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