Reading and District Beekeepers' Association
Providing support to beekeepers in and around Reading


What are Asian hornets?

Asian hornets are an invasive, stinging insect that is a predator of native insects and a threat to honeybees, other pollinators, and our ecology. They are generally black/dark brown with a single orange band, a fine yellow “belt” across their waist and yellow legs.

Where do they nest?

Asian hornets usually nest high in trees, but nests have recently been found in brambles, hedges, building roof spaces, cliffs and in the ground. Early in the season, nests may be the size of a tennis ball. From July onwards, the secondary nest is the size of a football or larger. Nests are extremely well camouflaged amongst foliage and very difficult to see.

What is the risk?

The danger is if a nest is disturbed. Asian hornets have been known to defend their nest area vigorously. For anyone working outdoors, examine the area in which you are to be working before you start work. Look for any unusual insect activity, or anything that could be a hornet’s nest. If in doubt, please seek expert help.

What then?

Try to take a photo and report via the Asian Hornet APP. Once it is identified as an Asian hornet, a representative from DEFRA, or one of the local beekeeping association’s Asian Hornet Action Team volunteers will come to confirm the sighting or nest and take appropriate action to progress the tracking and destruction of the nest. See What to do.

How serious is the sting?

Individual hornets aren’t usually aggressive, unless defending the nest, but their sting can be more severe than a wasp’s and they may sting more than once. The sting may present more of a risk of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock than wasp stings. If you suffer from a sting allergy, take your usual precautions. If you are stung and feel unwell, seek
medical attention straight away.