A local beekeeper near the town of Mauron in Brittany, France, recently requested that the local government remove a nest of killer Asian hornets outside his home. They refused to do anything about it, because the nest was on private property.
Mr. Grasland decided to take the matter into his own hands, since these destructive Asian hornets are the largest members of the wasp family, capable of growing up to five centimeters long. Their venom is toxic and can cause excessive pain in humans, even death at times.
A few days later, on the morning of October 12, 2020, Mr. Grasland deposited the Asian hornet nest, with more than 1000 insects inside, at the front entrance to the town hall, according to Mauron’s Mayor, Yves Chasles.
Although Mayor Chasles said he had nothing against the beekeeper, who also destroys hornet nests, he condemned Mr. Grasland’s actions by saying he endangered fellow citizens. Mr. Grasland took the action in protest that the government is unable, unwilling or incapable of taking action to control the killer species.
Beekeepers are angry about the government’s lack of control of the invasive species that threatens honeybees and can wipe out an entire hive in a matter of minutes. The hornets get very aggressive with honeybees in autumn season.
Mr. Grasland responded to the mayor’s criticism by making the public statement that if the nest is so dangerous outside the door of town hall, why is it any less dangerous to humans outside a private house.
This 2:36-minute video by Petepage shows some of these hornets in France:
The invasive and destructive Asian hornet species arrived in southwest France in 2004, probably as stowaways on a cargo ship. They have since spread all around France and to other parts of Europe.
They earned the gruesome nickname “murder hornets” because they rip the heads off thousands of bees in a frenzy, raid the beehives and chop up and feed the bee larvae and thorax to their own young. They leave a pile of dead bees in their wake as they just move on to another hive like vampires looking for more.
There has been a lot of coverage since late 2019 about the Asian giant hornet that has invaded the northwestern US state of Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia.
According to Quentin Rome, an Asian hornet expert at the French National Museum of Natural History, the wasp that invaded France is the Vespa velutina, and is different to the wasp in Washington State and British Columbia, the Vespa mandarinia, or Asian giant hornet. That species is not found in France although both species seem to have the same manner of destroying beehives and killing bees.
Urban beekeeping in the area of Paris has expanded considerably in the past few years, with an estimated 2000 hives in the downtown area. Now native wild bees like bumblebees are having trouble finding flowers to forage and struggling to survive, so the mayor announced a cut back of hives in public places. For now. The population of dreaded Asian hornets has also expanded in Paris.
Mr. Grasland’s way of handling the issue may or may not have been extreme, but it has drawn international attention to the plight of beekeepers in France whose hives are being wiped out by these Asian hornets, and the government response to their pleas for help. Maybe this will lead to a more effective solution for such issues in the future.