Bee keeper watching out for Asian hornets that wipe out honey bee colonies

BOWLING GREEN Ky.-Entering May of 2020, Covid-19 is sharing the spotlight with the Giant Asian hornet, commonly called the murder hornet.

Measuring in at 1.5 to 2 inches long, these hornets are native to Asia, but have recently been reported in Washington State, British Columbia and other parts of Canada.

As of Wednesday, there aren’t any confirmed sightings in the immediate area, but local beekeeper John Behnam is still keeping a close eye on the situation.

“We’re watching these. These things are monsters. They’re devastating. They’re about the size of a AA battery believe it or not. Their scientific name is Vespa Manderinia Magnifica, and I don’t see anything magnificent about them other than they’re monsters,” said Benham.

Benham said the hornet’s sting is strong enough to penetrate even beekeeper clothing, but it’s the honeybee colonies that are really threatened.

“They would rather go after a honeybee than us. As far as bee keeping goes, if they were attacking a colony of bees, you sure wouldn’t want to get involved in that,” Behnam said.

Other hornets that call Kentucky home like the European hornet, cicada killer, and the bald-faced hornet are similar in size, but have key differences. The main difference is that the giant Asian hornets can wipe out an entire bee colony in an afternoon.

Benham says the effect on bee colonies can drastically affect the way we get crops and food, making them more expensive without nature’s workers.

“Without bees, vegetables and fruits especially would be very expensive. Indirectly, they pollinate things like grains like soybeans where the seeds are harvested. Alfalfa is one of the major crops pollinated by honeybees,” Benham said.

If you think you’ve stumbled across one of these hornets, you’re asked to contact the UK College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment at the Warren County Cooperation extension office.

The link to contact them is https://www.warrencountyextension.com/.