Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 19 April 2024.

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Photo of Lord Patten Lord Patten Conservative

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of the spread of Asian hornets on the welfare of (1) honey bees, and (2) other insect populations, in England; and what action they are taking to prevent the further spread of this invasive species.

Photo of Lord Benyon Lord Benyon The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The Government recognises the essential role played by honey bees and wild pollinators in our environment, acknowledging their contribution to crop pollination. Additionally, pollinators play a vital role in supporting the natural ecosystem.

Asian hornets prey on honey bees and other pollinators so pose a significant threat to these insects. To date rapid action has been taken in the UK to find and destroy Asian hornet nests.

In 2023 a total of 72 nests were located and destroyed, the majority of these were located in the South-East (62). The National Bee Unit (NBU), part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency, rapidly located and destroyed the nests so we would expect any impacts on honey bee colonies and other pollinators to be small and localised.

From the analysis of nests found in 2023, a number of areas were identified where there is a low risk that Asian hornet queens may have overwintered. To address this, the NBU is carrying out spring trapping and working collaboratively with stakeholders to monitor traps at locations across Kent, East Sussex, Devon and North Yorkshire.

The Government remains committed to taking swift and effective contingency action against Asian hornet in 2024 thereby continuing to minimise the impacts on honey bees and other pollinators.

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