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Killer Asian hornets invade Britain in record numbers as beekeepers fight back

Beekeepers are being given special training to ‘hold the front line’ and prevent a full scale invasion of killer Asian Hornets into Britain.

Record numbers of nests have already been found this year in the warmer weather.

A total of 85 have now been tracked down and removed so far in Jersey – two more than the previous yearly record.

Three months of the hornet season is still to come with the number of nests expected to rise substantially, according to the Jersey Beekeeping Association.

In a bid to stave off the invasion, special guidance is now being offered to beekeepers to help them keep the invaders at bay.

The fight on the Channel Islands is seen as the crucial battle-ground to stop the spread to Britain.

Just one of the foreign menaces can eat up to 50 bees a day and their impact on honey production could be devastating.

Alastair Christie, Asian hornet coordinator on Jersey, said: “Almost every day we are finding two or three nests.

“Some of the beekeepers have said their hives are being attacked, but the situation we have got this year is that the volunteers are so busy the beekeepers are having to learn about this really quickly to protect their hives, and we are giving them advice and assistance on how to do so.”

Tips were also being given on observing the flight patterns of the hornets.

The sharp rise has likely been weather-related, with conditions making it easier for smaller primary nests to form earlier.

But the warm weather has also provided those fighting the hornets with an extra weapon – as it has also increased the number of wasps on Jersey.

Mr Christie added: “We are actually getting the heads-up because people are catching them in traps intended for wasps.

“We are not beaten – we just need to keep doing what we are doing and then assess at the end of the season.”

The species, which began to spread through Europe in 2004 after arriving in the south of France inside a freight ship, was first spotted in Jersey in late 2016.

Since then, the number of nests had been growing year on year.

Asian hornets are thought to have arrived in France from China in 2004, reaching the UK in 2016.

Experts said the insects are so dehydrated by the British heatwave they are coming out of hiding and heading to lakes, pools, BBQs and pints in beer gardens.

The newly-recorded behaviour was spotted in Jersey on Wednesday.

It appears that with the recent prolonged spell of dry, warm weather, the Asian hornets on Jersey are seeking out suitable places to collect water.

As many as 30 in one hour were recorded drinking water from the pond in Howard Davis Park, St Helier.