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‘Help us to track Asian hornets’

News | Published:

A REVOLUTIONARY new radio tag tracking system could soon be used to turn the tide in the battle to stop the spread of Asian hornets in Guernsey.

Damian Harris of the Guernsey Beekeepers’ Association, which is crowdfunding for transmitters to track Asian hornets. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 21963563)

However, the public are needed to help with the project.

Guernsey Beekeepers’ Association president and island bee inspector Damian Harris has placed a provisional order for 10 of the small transmitters and a tracking unit, which was developed by the University of Exeter.

Asian hornets are a threat to local honeybees because the large hornets target and kill them.

This year there have been sightings near the Longfrie, the Foulon Cemetery, the GSPCA and Castel Church, but experts and islanders have struggled to find the nests.

Mr Harris said the technology could make a big difference.

‘If we find Asian hornets foraging, then we could use the trackers and find the nests without hours of searching,’ he said.

Currently people tracking the hornets’ movements have to search for the nests high in trees or log which direction they see the hornets flying, which could be away from or towards a nest.

The technology has been trialled in Jersey and Mr Harris said he had heard good reports about it from beekeepers there.

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In another link with the other island, an attractant which has been a great success in Jersey is set to arrive in Guernsey this week and should help draw in the Asian hornets.

Mr Harris said it was important islanders set up bait stations and then keep an eye out for the direction in which the hornets fly away.

The stations should also help catch hornets for tracking.

The hornets have to be partially frozen so the trackers can be attached to them with sewing thread.

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It is important the tracking kit arrives soon.

There is a six to eight week waiting list, Mr Harris said, adding: ‘If we leave it too long, the nests will be releasing their queens and we will miss out.’

However, the technology is too weighty for younger, smaller hornets so it can be used in the late summer only.

Last year, nests were found near the Imperial Hotel and the Longfrie.

The Imperial nest was found in early September and destroyed and there have been no reports of hornets in the area this year, showing that the queens had probably not been released.

However, the Longfrie nest was found later in the year and more hornets have been spotted in the area this year, proving the queens had spread and set up new nests.

The kit works by beeping when the control unit points towards the transmitter. The transmitters have a 1.3km range and hornets usually forage up to 1.2km from their nest.

The tracking kit will cost £3,100 and while Mr Harris is in talks with the States about helping with some of the cost, the public need to help with the funding.

Mr Harris said he was talking to the GBA about crowd funding.

‘It is a quick way to generate money,’ he said.

‘Even if people give £10, we only need 310 people.

‘And we do need the money quickly.’

n Anyone interested in helping can email guernsey.parish.apiaries@gmail.com or call 07911 721785.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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