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Hunter shoots down hornet nests

Council acts to kill frelon asiatique as local beekeepers see their honey production cut by 90%

A HUNTER has been brought in to shoot and destroy asian hornet nests in a bid to protect the honey-producing bee population.

The move by the Alpes-Maritimes departmental council has already seen hunter Didier Calcagno destroy about 40 nests.

Nests are easily visible as large rugby-ball shaped masses in leafless trees at the moment and Nice Matin said that a couple of shots with a 12mm shotgun made short work of them.

The commune of Sospel has seen local honey production fall from about 45kg per hive to 4kg due to the predation by the frelon asiatique, which hover outside the hive and grab bees in midair as they fly in or out.

First seen in the south-west of France in 2004, the asian hornet has rapidly spread across the country and they were first seen in Brittany capital Rennes in 2011 where three nests destroyed in 2012, 11 in 2013 and 70 in 2014.

However, there are doubts as to whether destroying the nests at this time of year is worthwhile as the queens have already left to spend winter underground where it is warmer. They build new nests each year and each colony can have up to 5,000 hornets.

Destroying them or their nests in spring or summer is difficult and dangerous – with several people having been killed due to frelon stings – and the best option is to contact your mairie.
Asian hornet nest photo: Fredciel

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