The Asian hornet arrived in France in 2004 and has become the scourge of all amateur beekeepers. From the beginning of August, Frédéric Wielezynski, a beekeeper in the Médoc region of France, spends every weekend tirelessly repeating the same futile gestures. He positions himself in front of his hives armed with a fly swat and tries to crush the enormous bee-eating hornets.
These are not just any hornets, but the Asian Vespa velutina. "I know it's useless, because a dozen more will arrive as soon as my back is turned, but I have to do something," said Wielezynski, president of the Gironde and Aquitaine beekeepers' association. "I love my bees and I can't just stand by and see them being eaten up without doing anything about it."
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I'm glad to see that after the emotive beginning of this article the author did actually quote some proper scientists talking sense at the end. I do sympathise with the apiarists, but the hysteria has lead to some really inappropriate methods of control, such as beer traps which actually catch and kill more bees than hornets. The cases where people have been attacked have been very unusual circumstances. They normally co-exist with humans perfectly peacefully, often with the humans blissfully unaware of their presence (this is according to an entomologist contact of mine in the heart of their French territory). I saw my first (and only) one a few weeks ago here in the Touraine. The article refers to them as 'enormous', but in fact they are smaller than the native hornets.
Posted by: Susan Walter | 23 August 2011 at 16:08
Hi Susan, many thanks for your comment and I must admit I was at a talk some time ago about tackling the hornets and some of the methods described were very Heath Robinson!
Posted by: Craig McGinty | 24 August 2011 at 07:10