Warning as Asian hornets emerge early

Beekeepers in southwest say they have trapped high numbers of queens already - and warn that the aggressive insects could be a menace this summer

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The mild winter has had prompted bee-killing Asian hornet queens to emerge from hibernation earlier than normal, beekeepers have warned.

Apiarists in the Haute-Garonne say they have already captured more early emerging queens than in previous years - and said that they expect insect numbers to be higher than normal this summer. The hornets will be building nests under roofs, in attics, hedges, garages or even dog kennels now.

After spending the winter underground, each queen hornet builds a new nest every year. A mature colony can have up to 5,000 hornets.

First seen in the south-west of France in 2004, the asian hornet has rapidly spread across the country. They made it as far as Rennes, Brittany, by 2011 - and have now crossed the Channel to the UK.

While its venom is no more powerful than its European counterpart, the aggressive hornets are known to attack people who come within five metres of their nests.

As reported, mild conditions over winter have already prompted the early return of mosquitoes, which were first reported in the Haute-Garonne in February.

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