What is France’s new national plan to fight against Asian hornets?

The hornets represent a triple threat: to the beekeeping industry, to the environment and to public health, said the French minister for biodiversity

The hornets have rapidly expanded across France after their arrival 20 years ago. The inset photo shows an Asian hornet
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A new bill containing measures to fight against the proliferation of Asian hornets was passed by the French Senate yesterday (April 11).

It aims to “organise the fight and prevention against this species" by means of a "national strategy implemented at departmental level.” It was adopted unanimously.

It involves the creation of a ‘national control plan’ to fight against the species, which will include a committee made up of state officials, hornet experts and other scientists, as well as beekeepers. 

The latter will also receive compensation for the destruction of hives caused by Asian hornets.

There will also be an increase in monitoring of the hornet population, and local authorities will be able to locate, report, and destroy hornet nests with greater autonomy.

The bill was put forward by Michel Masset, a member of a radical-left wing group in the chamber.

“This proposed law is a fundamental element in our ability to reduce the impact of this invasive alien species", said Hervé Berville, Biodiversity Minister. 

However, the plan does not provide compensation for beekeepers whose hives are destroyed by other species, nor for any other apiary owners (some farmers and private individuals also keep small apiaries). 

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Hornets pose ‘triple threat’ 

The hornets represent “a triple threat: to the beekeeping industry, to the environment and, of course, to public health,” Mr Berville added. 

The insects, which first arrived in France around 20 years ago, are responsible for up to 20% of all beehive deaths in the country. 

This represents an annual loss of around €12 million annually to the industry.

With spring in full swing, the hornets are now beginning to build their nests. 

Read more: Now is the moment to trap Asian hornets in France

Alongside directly affecting beekeepers, the destruction of beehives also has a knock-on effect on pollination.