Scots are being urged to look out for a ‘predator’ hornet from Asia that could pose a threat to the countries Honeybee population.

The Scottish Government is in the middle of a second 10-year plan to boost the health of Honeybees, which are considered one of the world’s most vital pollinators for wild flowers and gardens.

Now the public are being warned the species could be put at further risk due to a non-native predatory hornet.

The yellow-legged Asian Hornets (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) are known to be aggressive predators of multiple species, including honeybees and other pollinators.

The predator is native to Northern India, China, the Indo-Chinese peninsula and the Indonesian archipelago.

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Scottish Agriculture Minister Jim Fairlie has said they are working on a plan to ‘eradicate’ the yellow-legged Asian Hornet before it can settle in the UK.

He said: “I am delighted to see the progress made by the Bee Health Improvement Partnership to help deliver our second 10-year Scottish Government Honey Bee Health Strategy. 

“By developing a Contingency Plan to address any Asian hornet incursion in Scotland, we are well prepared to tackle and eradicate the insect before it has an opportunity to establish.

"We cannot underestimate the devastating impact this non-native predator has on honeybees and other insects, including important pollinators, and I urge people to be aware of what to look for and report any potential sightings.”

The plan to deal with the hornet has been included in the first annual report of the Bee Health Improvement Partnership (BHIP).

There are also other threats to Scotland’s Honeybees which have been highlighted in the report. A parasite called Varroa mites pose the biggest threat to honey bee colonies in Scotland, it says.

The Varroa mite is known to feed on bee larvae and pupae, resulting in deformation of the wings and bodies of bees when they develop and emerge as adults. They also feed on adult bees.

However, the report states that there has been positive steps taken towards neutralising the threat of the parasite.

A map showing the spread of the parasite, and highlighting areas where the mite has not been reported, such as the islands of Colonsay and Oronsay, which are nature reserves for Apis mellifera mellifera (Amm, Black Bee), has been shared with beekeepers across the country to highlight where particular care is needed in order to prevent spread of the parasite into these areas.

While the Scottish Government is keen to keep the public vigilant over the Asian Hornet, there have been no confirmed sightings of the predator north of England so far.

The furthest north it was spotted was in Yorkshire.

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How do I report any sightings?

The free Asian Hornet Watch App has been launched and is free to download on iPhones and Androids.

One the App, Members of the public can report suspect sightings of the hornets to the Great British Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS), which has responsibility for helping to coordinate the approach to invasive non-native species in Great Britain.

The Asian Hornet Contingency Plan will ensure that any incursion is dealt with swiftly by Scottish Government Honey Bee Inspectors who would confirm the sighting and then take steps to find, destroy and remove nests.

You can see the full Asian Hornet Contingency Plan here and the Scottish Government Bee Health improvement report here.