Beekeeping Information Centre

Asian Hornet


Vespa velutina, the Asian Hornet

We are grateful to the National Bee Unit for the information and pictures contained on these pages.

For updates from the NBU on sightings of the Asian Hornet in the UK, visit BeeBase.

Could you spot an Asian Hornet nest? Have a look at the pictures on this page.


The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) is a voracious predator of honey bees capable of wiping out individual bee hives.  It also can kill a range of native species of insects such as bumble bees, flies and spiders. With our honey bees and other pollinators already under pressure having an additional predator would not be welcome.  You can read more about the risks posed by the Asian hornet in recent articles in BeeCraft Magazine (September and October 2011).  The full GB Non Native Species Risk Assessment for Vespa velutina, the Asian hornet, can be viewed here.

It has recently extended its geographical range from Asia to mainland Europe following an accidental introduction to France, and is now also present in Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Italy. Adult hornets are highly mobile; the rate of spread across France is approximately 100 km/year. There is concern that this exotic insect could reach the UK, either by hitching a ride on imported goods or simply by flying across the Channel.

The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) is a large wasp that comes from the Far East – China, India and Korea.  It is slightly smaller than our native European hornet.  Please note that it should not be confused with the giant hornet of Japan.  You can read more about the Asian hornet, and how to distinguish it from the native European species Vespa crabro here and here.

The message to Beekeepers from the NBU is as follows:

• In spring look out for emerging queens, who can build new nests;
• Make sure you know how to recognise Asian hornets – a very helpful ID sheet can be downloaded from the NNSS website at
• Know where to report sightings:
• Our best defence against the Asian hornet is to quickly detect any arrivals and prevent them from establishing;
• Trapping is expected to aid this;
• Please visit the Asian hornet pages on BeeBase click here to read updated guidance for beekeepers, including information on early monitoring and trap design. You can also access the full Response Plan through these pages.