Asian Hornets are likely to make their way into Worcestershire within the next year according to experts, worrying beekeepers across the county.

The insects, also known as yellow-legged hornets, were first seen in the UK in 2016 with 85 confirmed nest sightings in 56 different locations throughout the country since.

The hornets are spreading with 72 of these nest sightings found in 2023 alone, more than the previous six years combined. 

Worcester News: Asian Hornet nest Asian Hornet nest (Image: John De Carteret)

John Mosley, chairman of the Malvern and Upton Beekeepers Association (MUBKA), said: "Our first line of defence is awareness. 

"Nearly everyone on the island of Jersey, who have been dealing with Asian Hornets since 2016, know how to identify and report them.

"We don’t want our European Hornet and other insects misidentified and killed as they have enough stressors with many species already under threat.

"Here in Worcestershire, we are planning a range of activities including talks about Asian Hornets to all sorts of groups such as schools, WIs and rotary clubs and ideas on how to get involved.

"We would also like businesses to get on board too – be it tech companies designing species-specific Asian Hornet traps or businesses putting up posters."

In 2017, just one year after the first sighting, the government launched an app to combat the pest, allowing users to correctly identify it and notify the National Bee Unit.

Upon its release, the then Biosecurity Minister, Lord Gardiner said: "This innovative new app is designed to be easy to use and allows people to report quickly any possible sightings of Asian Hornets, which will help us to halt their spread.

"This invasive species poses a threat to our native honey bees and we must do all we can to encourage vigilance - this new technology will advance this."

Worcester News: Nest sightings: Red (2023), Yellow (2016-2023)Nest sightings: Red (2023), Yellow (2016-2023) (Image: Animal and Plant Health Agency)

The first hornet to visit Europe is believed to have arrived in France in 2004 after being accidentally imported from China.

It has since been found in 12 countries throughout Europe, with honey production in Portugal dropping by 35 percent since 2004, worrying UK beekeepers. 

The hornets eat many different types of insects with it preying on pollinators including butterflies and dragonflies, but over 50 per cent of its diet is honeybees.