Let’s Use Drones In Our Fight Against Asian Hornets, German Beekeeper Suggests

A German beekeeper has said drones should be applied to detect Asian hornet nests as the invasive species poses an increasing risk to honeybees.

Asian hornets (Vespa velutina), which are indigenous to Southeast Asia, kill and eat honeybees. They have spread quickly in Western and Central Europe in the past 20 years.

Having arrived in France in cargo shipping in 2004, the predatory insects have also caused serious damage in other countries including Spain and Germany.

Now Thomas Hock, who heads the Beekeepers Union in the southwestern German State of Rhineland-Palatinate, said drones should be applied to find and eradicate Asian hornet nests.

Thomas argued: “As a next step, the nests’s holes could be sealed. Their colonies would then be destroyed.”

Illustrative image of Asian Hornet Vespa velutina. (NewsX/Bee)

Asian hornets kill and eat honeybees. As the domesticated pollinators are unable to protect themselves, whole colonies are being destroyed if no one interferes.

Thomas warned: “Asian hornets have flying skills comparable to those of dragonflies. Some apiarists have lost all of their colonies.”

The Ministry for the Environment in Rhineland-Palatinate promised to work out a list of measures which could help to slow down the spreading of the invasive species.

The suggestion to use drones in the fight against the proliferation of the Asian hornet comes as an apiarist from North Rhine-Westphalia claimed killing off the invasive species must be of utmost interest.

Matthias Roth, who is the chief of the Cologne Union of Beekeepers, said: “We must destroy as many Asian hornets as possible. We won’t be able to eradicate them completely. However, it’s possible to reduce their number.”

But he warned: “Non-specialists should never try to kill such hornets.”

Matthias said taking a photo and informing the local nature authorities would be the better option.

Asian hornets eat fruit and almost any insect species. Their nests can feature around 5,000 animals including several queens.

One colony can eat up to 11 kilogrammes of various insects per year, according to biologist Eric Darrouzet from Tours University in France.

If firefighters have to get involved in the eradication of an Asian hornet colony, the costs of such an operation can reach EUR 3,000 (GBP 2,600).


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