Book review. The Asian Hornet Handbook

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Author(s): Wootton. Robin; Year published: 2019; Origin: Member-contributed; Pages: 
Topic(s): beekeeping and entomology; Location(s): 

Sarah Bunker, The Asian Hornet Handbook. Psocid Press, 2019. 157 pp. ISBN: 978-1-9160871-0-1 (softback £16).

British honeybees and beekeepers have had a troublesome few decades with a succession of predators and diseases arriving, attacking hives and reducing honey yields. The latest and scariest threat is the Asian Hornet Vespa velutina nigrithorax, which has spread at alarming speed across Europe, is established in the Channel Islands and is beginning to appear in mainland Britain. Unlike our native hornet, these specialise in feeding on honeybees, attacking and killing the workers and hanging around the hives intimidating potential foragers so that the latter stay inside, and the brood doesn’t get fed. Fortunately they are large and recognisable, so one can look out for them. But don’t touch…

Dr Sarah Bunker, a member of the DA Entomology Section, has written and published the first handbook/guide to this new menace. Sarah has researched the hornet in Jersey together with beekeepers and entomologists from the University of Exeter Cornwall campus. She details the hornets’ habits and life-history, describes how to recognise them and with what they may be confused, and explains what to do if you see them. While a full account is given of the methods employed in their trapping and control, the book makes it clear that nest destruction should only be done by professionals employed by the National Bee Unit as part of their eradication plan.

The text is clear and informative and the illustrations, including paintings by Sarah herself, are excellent. There is a full list of references. The Handbook may prove to be required reading for beekeepers and others who are concerned for our bee populations. Sarah sells it online, at

Robin Wootton
(first published in DA News Autumn 2019)