Asian hornets survived winter in UK - Fruit & Vine

Asian hornets overwintered in the UK, experts confirm

Asian hornets have overwintered in the UK for the first time, Defra confirms. 

Asian hornets survived UK winter for the first time, Defra confirms. Fera Science Ltd completed analysis on APHA’s National Bee Unit samples.

There have been 116 confirmed sightings of Asian hornet since 2016, and 15 this year, according to Defra.

This figure includes a total of 86 nests, all of which were destroyed.

Genetic analysis conducted by Fera Science Ltd on samples collected by APHA’s National Bee Unit, has now found that three Asian hornet queens trapped last month in Sussex are the offspring of a nest that was destroyed in the area in November 2023. 

Not considered strong evidence

Defra’s spokesperson said that while this is the first evidence of Asian hornets overwintering in the UK, it is not considered to be strong evidence of an established population. 

For a species to be considered established, there should be evidence of a reproducing population that has been present in the wild for a significant number of generations and that is considered to be viable in the long term without any human intervention. 

2023 saw a record number of Asian hornets found in the UK.

Last month, the UK’s chief plant health officer professor Nicola Spence issued a new warning urging UK beekeepers and the public to be increasingly vigilant to the presence of Asian hornets and report any sightings as we move into the peak summer season. 

She then said: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, the public can help us take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.    

“While the Asian hornet poses no greater risk to human health than other wasps or hornets, they can damage honeybee colonies and harm other pollinators.    

“Please continue to be vigilant for any Asian hornets, and if you think you’ve spotted one, report your sighting through the Asian hornet app or online.” 

How to report sightings 

Last year, the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s National Bee Unit attended every credible sighting, locating and destroying 72 nests in 56 locations with the majority of nests found in Kent.

The National Bee Unit continues to stand ready to respond quickly and effectively to any further possible sightings. 

If you suspect you have seen an Asian hornet you should report it using the iPhone and Android app ‘Asian Hornet Watch’ or by using Defra’s online report form

Alternatively, email Please include a photograph if you can safely obtain one.

Identification guides and more information are available and if you keep bees you should keep up to date with the latest situation on the sightings page and on BeeBase.

It is important not to approach or disturb a nest. Asian hornets are not generally aggressive towards people but may be when they perceive a threat to their nest.

Read more fruit news.

Courtesy The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Crown Copyright.

© Fruit & Vine 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Website Design by Unity Online

Sign Up To   Fruit & Vine

Our free* magazine subscription offers a host of benefits to those in the wine making, fruit growing, juice and cider producing industries - find out more, and sign up today, below.

Sign Up Today *Fruit & Vine is sent free-of-charge to qualifying industry professionals in the UK.