Threats to Native Irish Honeybees

by Katy - Bee Missionary May 25, 2021

Threats to Native Irish Honeybees

Irish bees face many potentially disastrous issues these days, from the Varroa destructor mite which causes CCD (colony collapse disorder) to climate change to Asian Hornets. Winters are longer, springs are colder, and an unreliable summer as well as possible global warming all factor into higher bee colony losses.

One of the potential repercussions from Brexit is the Hive Beetle. If it gets a foothold in Ireland due to being found on imported bees from continental Europe, it will further endanger the native Irish honeybee. You can read more about this in a recent blog post we made about the importation of bees into Ireland.

As we recently blogged two weeks ago, the first confirmed case of an Asian Hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) has happened in Dublin, Ireland. It was alive, but weak, and seems to have arrived in Ireland in a crate of fruit. As reported by Sunday World on May 14, 2021, this yellow-legged hornet is an invasive species and a major threat in other countries. It is highly aggressive near its nests, and can be deadly to humans, sending them into toxic shock following multiple stings. People with anaphylaxis should avoid these hornets.

The ferocious predator known as the Asian Hornet hovers near honeybee hives and can kill all the tens of thousands of bees in a hive within two hours. They also kill bumblebees, spiders, and wasps as well as other important insects, but no other insect do they do more damage to than the honeybee because of how concentrated honeybees live in hives.

A 4:42-minute video by Irishbusybees dotcom of native Irish black bees (Apis mellifera mellifera) coming and going:

 

 

This predatory Asian Hornet species has been in Europe for years, and devastated many apiaries in France and Spain, as well as in other countries. In 2016 it was discovered in Jersey, Channel Islands, and then it crossed over to the UK which has been battling off these wretched insects ever since. We blogged about the Jersey problem. Now they are spreading across the European continent rapidly and their expansion is largely unchecked.

The general public is encouraged to be vigilant for any Asian Hornets that may have recently entered Ireland and to report sightings as quickly as possible. First, people must be able to identify them, and know where to report them, according to Colette O’Connell, director of the Irish Beekeepers’ Association.

Irish beekeepers have been warned that the possibility of Asian Hornets entering Ireland grows daily. If enough honeybees are killed by Asian Hornets, it would have a substantial impact on beekeeping and pollination throughout the country.

If you discover any Asian Hornets, please contact NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) at your earliest convenience, with details such as exact location, and photos if possible. If you can freeze the hornet to death and send it in, that would be helpful. NPWS Horticulture and Plant Health Division, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Backweston Campus, Celbridge, Co. Kildare. Phone: 01-5058600 Email: beekeeping@agriculture.gov.ie

 

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Katy - Bee Missionary
Katy - Bee Missionary

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