At what point will the NBU give up on AHs?

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"Nigel Semmence, NBU
2016 - 2022 rough 2 nests a year + 13 individual sightings with no nests
2023 72 nests, 56 locations all in ports and coastal areas
20,000 sightings reported, 150 were accurate."

This is precisely why I caution about the drive to engage lay members of the public. 19,850 false alerts deflects the NBU from their urgent task at hand. What would be interesting to know is what proportion of the accurate sightings came from beekeepers, pest controllers or related disciplines?

"The majority of queens examined in the UK were found to have mated with 1 male. This compares to an average of 4 - 5 in France and >5 in China."

This is of interest for which there are at least two possibilities premised on the queens coming from a region of low velutina population density. However, without more detailed information on the distribution of single vs multiple mated queens it is impossible to draw any firm conclusions. The queens may have been produced and mated in the UK but that would not explain the coastal distribution. What would explain the coastal distribution is queens produced at the fringes of expansion in France being blown over by Spring winds and being dispersed over a wide arc.

"The areas of concern are:
Plymouth 3 AHs found that were not related to a known nest"

Queens or workers? If workers were they related clones or unrelated? If related then possibly from an unidentified nest otherwise not of that much of a concern.

"Yarm nest destroyed there was found to have produced males"

Not of that much concern because this would indicate loss of the queen giving rise to males being produced by sterile workers.

"Kent & East Sussex AHs not belonging to known nests found, 5 nests produced new queens"

Doesn't say how many and whether workers or queens? Again same question of whether they were workers and if so were they clones of each other.

That 5 nests produced queens is of concern but again little by way of detail. How many queen cells and had the queens flown or were they larval or pupal?
Taking into account that the highest incidence of velutina occurs in the Atlantic arc of continental Europe, that they are also multi-paired queens and that they would be the most likely to be swept by storms towards the British coasts, their reasoning does not hold up.
Regarding the import theory, you can give the volume numbers imported from China and France compared to other countries with a lower incidence.
However, it is very likely that these are queens mated and hibernated successfully in the United Kingdom. If there are few nests, it is likely that there will be fewer drones with reproductive capacity and this fits a profile of queens fertilized by a single drone.
There's a world of difference between confirmed and reported sightings. Why would you expect the NBU to report suspected sightings?

There is definitely a need for alerts to be raised. The question is how to achieve this calmly and effectively. What is required is cool heads with a defined sense of purpose rather than an instalment of Keystone beeks!

I remain of the opinion that the best course of action is that all beekeepers set up wick based bait stations and monitor periodically. I would suggest that the level of monitoring should depend on level of risk. Monitoring is a function of the number of bait stations and the interval over which each bait station is observed which itself will be a function of the time of year.

Using a green, amber and red risk based system is a good idea based on distance from previously confirmed nest locations but I would suggest changing the proximities so that distances of more than 30 miles are considered green, between 30 and 10 miles are amber and anything less than 10 miles are considered red.

In green zones, I would suggest that beekeepers set just one wick based bait station preferrably at a location as close to a water source as possible that has woodland not too far away such that the scent of the bait station is carried towards the woodland. The bait station should be observed for a one hour spell once a fortnight up until the beginning of July. Thereafter, the bait station can be observed for a 20 minute spell once per fortnight.

In amber areas as for green areas plus I would suggest increasing the frequency of observations to weekly instead of fortnightly and I would suggest augmenting the use of bait stations with observation of naturally occuring flora, wood pulp sources and compost heaps (important hunting ground for vespines).

In red areas as per amber but I would suggest increasing the number of bait stations but would suggest setting the bait stations at linear intervals of 250m. By linear intervals, I mean along the edge of woodland (circa 50 to 100m away) such that the scent of the bait stations is carried into the woodland.

When setting bait stations, prevailing wind direction is important. Velutina is a preferred high level wet woodland nester. It is important therefore to carefully consider the direction of the scent plumes produced by the bait stations to maximise their draw. Linear orientation with perpendicular prevailing wind will maximise draw. Longitudinal orientation is simply a wasted deployment of bait stations.

I would caution against setting bait stations in close proximity to apiaries and what is more, I would strongly advise against setting bait stations such that their scent travels towards the hives. That is simply begging for trouble because it will only serve to draw any velutina to the hives instead of the bait stations.

Apiaries also need to be monitored as a separate draw. So placing bait stations at apiaries only serves to reduce the availability of observation points.

Monitoring at hives should also be risk based. In green areas carry on as usual. In amber areas inspect apiaries at least weekly observing hives for at least a 20 minute spell. In red areas, observe hives every third day and observe again for at least a 20 minute spell.

Finally in this instalment, don't forget to maintain the bait stations to keep them topped up. I would recommend adding maple syrup to the sugar mix. A good indicator of how well the bait station is working will be the presence of other insects but don't be surprised if your bait stations are ignored by other indigenous vespines during the hunting season. Queen wasps will exploit bait stations until they become nest bound. After that worker wasps generally won't come to sweet bait stations until their nests mature which usually won't be before the end of July. This is because vespine workers get all of their carbs from within their nests. Velutina workers on the other hand require supplementation which is why they will come to bait stations earlier than vespines.

There is one other bait that might be worth experimenting with and that is macerated grass with alcohol. I know this sounds wacky but one of the ways in which vespines find grazing insect prey is by detecting the smell of leaf damage caused by grazing insects. The bait requires grinding a handful of grass with a little cheap vodka and then diluting with water and using this in a wick bait station. I'm not recommending this as a substitute for sweet bait stations. Just a suggestion to experiment with. If the grass bait station attracts hunting wasps (including queens) it will be a good substitute for protein baits which go off and stink after a while.
I appreciate you passing off an idea I proposed in another previous AH thread as your own. Their color risk system is very similar to when I proposed that counties be classified based on the number of nests and different "forces" be mobilized.
All vespines do. One of the tasks of an incumbent queen is to destroy eggs laid by sterile workers until such time as drones need to be produced. Then she will either lay eggs that have not been fertilized or allow eggs laid by workers to develop.
Thanks. I never knew that.
I appreciate you passing off an idea I proposed in another previous AH thread as your own.
? Tosh. I was referring to the BBKA traffic light circular. Never did I pass it off as my own idea. What I have tried to do though is give some practical advice to make the risk based approach more relevant and practical.
Their color risk system is very similar to when I proposed that counties be classified based on the number of nests and different "forces" be mobilized.
? Tosh. I was referring to the BBKA traffic light circular. Never did I pass it off as my own idea. What I have tried to do though is give some practical advice to make the risk based approach more relevant and practical.

Post in the 'Asian Hornet App' thread
Post #119 dated January 17 while the BKA update is from March according to a post from days ago.
By the way, some users didn't like my proposal but applauded others.
Does anyone know what size entrance will keep AH's out of a hive but allow free movement of bees? Just making some underfloor entrances. Thanks
I think in York one is far from the point of needing to be too concerned yet. Just make the floors as per normal with 8mm spacing and later on think about adding a temporary reduced entrance block should the need ever be required.

Once one makes the UFE permanent then one inhibits the Queen and drones from getitng out, also dead bees or clearing of dead bees will likely block the entrance more often.

Once weakened or defenceless they will enter at will though I believe 5.5/6mm is the min space/gap.
Think more about natural protection to inhibit hawking, allow grass/plants to grow up or place other closely spaced obstacles directly in front of the hives to give bees some defence (when and if a colony starts to have issues).
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