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The Asiatic Hornet arrives in Galicia

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New Bee

Joined: 20 Apr 2011
Posts: 7
Location: UK, Northamptonshire, Yelvertoft

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 12:58 pm    Post subject: The Asiatic Hornet arrives in Galicia Reply with quote

We have been spending our summer holidays near Ceideira, Galicia, (North West Spain) for the past six years. During this time I have started to keep bees and started to take notice of beekeepers abroad.
Galicia has many beekeepers There are extensive eucalyptus forests, indigenous forests with a lot of sweet chestnut and heather moorland. We have always bought honey (brezo – heather, castaño – chestnut, milflores – a bit of everything) from a beekeeper who lives outside Ceideira.
I was in the main street when I saw the poster reproduced here. It is in Gallego rather than Castilian Spanish but the gist is clear. The hornet has arrived. So, when on our last day there we went as usual to buy some honey, I asked my wife Jane, who speaks Spanish well, to ask the bee keeper about Asiatic hornets. Were they attacking his hives? When did they first arrive in the area? From the torrent of Spanish that ensued I gathered immediately that there was a problem. Allowing for some misunderstandings he said as follows; in 2013 there were no hornets bothering his hives but in 2014 his hives were under siege. The hornets would hover outside the hives and pounce on the bees. He was using traps to catch the hornets; they worked but they didn’t catch enough. He had killed 140 hornets in one hive which he lost. He had done this by netting the hive and shaking it out. The authorities were giving help; they were sending teams with cherry pickers to reach the hornets’ nests and destroy them. The nests are mainly high up in trees so this is the only way to reach them. However they tended to do this in the middle of the day when most of the workers were foraging. He then said that as a result of this there could be sufficient returning workers to allow the hornets to requeen and start again (I’ve no idea if this is true)? He also said that the hornets would eat anything; bees, meat, fruit etc. All in all he was very worried for his bees and bee-keeping.
Later on that day I found the reproduced article in the local paper. You can see the cherry picker in use. It talks about the two places where the hornets originally entered Galicia in 2012 and their spreading further afield. To paraphrase the last couple of paragraphs:
“So far beekeepers are relaxed because the most affected areas do not produce a lot of honey and they expect the authorities will act to tackle this problem. The president of the IXP declined to give any figures of the damage done to hives, but believes that at the moment there are just isolated cases. “
The IXP (Indicación Xeográfica Protexida) is “Protected Geographical Appellation” and is responsible for regional food types (think Stilton cheese or Champagne). I think that the beekeeper in Ceideira may feel that the president of the IXP is far too complacent. We should be very concerned.
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