BEE keepers across south west France will be keeping a keen eye out over the next few weeks as the beginning of spring prompts the dreaded Asian hornet, or Vespa velutina, to make its nests.
Queen hornets will start producing workers very soon to build the large football shaped nests, often found in trees close to a source of water.
And whilst an impressive looking structure the Asian hornets within can decimate a bee colony by invading the hive and picking off victims.
Asian hornets are distinguished by yellow tipped legs, with a dark brown or black thorax, and they usually measure around 25mm in length.
They are believed to have arrived in France via a container ship in 2004 with the first nests spotted near Agen the following year, and from there the Asian hornets continued to spread through Aquitaine.
Cases have been recorded of people being stung by a swarm of Asian hornets but it is still rare and they are not more potent than similar species.
Although their spread across France as far as Paris and Brittany will increase the risk of an attack and people with bee allergies are advised to take great caution.
Nests are a fairly common sight here in the south of the Dordogne, with one method used to destroy them being the local hunters taking pot-shots at the structures.
But regional officials are keen to take more effective action and many Mairies here in the south west of France have designated a person to be the first point of contact should local residents spot an Asian hornet nest.
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