French beekeepers fighting killer Asian hornet

Fight continues

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Beekeepers are continuing to fight back against Asian hornets, frelons asiatiques, that destroy valuable hives. New weapons include innovative traps and even farmyard hens.

They have created a cone-shaped mesh trap baited with honey and wax from the bottom of the hive to attract and trap queen hornets and workers, who kill their bees.

In Sarthe, Pays de la Loire, a beekeeper also found that hens snapped up hornets hovering outside hives to catch bees and he has now moved 70 of his hives on to a farm.

Asian hornets are smaller than European hornets and have yellow legs. Their nests are only measure about 3cm at this time of year and are difficult to spot even in light foliage.

These grow to rugby-ball size over summer with up to 8,000 hornets and several queens. By this time they have killed or stressed the bees.

Householders who spot a nest on their property are probably best advised to call in a pest control agent and pay about €100-€180 to get rid of it safely.

You can also call your mairie but although prefects have been given authority to destroy nests they have no obligation to pay for the destruction.

Some honey-producing areas like Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes or Alpes-Maritimes have organised services and some towns, such as Caen, will also take on the task but there is no national rule and, as yet, no law.

Some towns also offer simple traps. Briton Robert Moon, a French-licensed pest control officer in Cher, said a beer-bait trap attracts hornets but, as it has yeast, does not attract bees.