THE plight of the British honey bee continues.

Some things such as the weather, damp summers have certainly affected the survival of the species and their ability to pollinate, are beyond our control but the constant threat from other life-threatening creatures is certainly something our local beekeepers are conscious of - and now they are appealing for the public’s help to protect the dwindling honeybee population.

In September 2016, the Asian hornet, an aggressive predator of honeybees and other beneficial insects, was confirmed for the first time in the UK. While it isn’t still clear whether it is established or not, what is evident is the need to tackle this potential threat.

Acting on information about the risk from the Asian hornet, Bradford Beekeepers Association have been creating special monitoring traps so members can monitor the possible invasion of Asian hornets in our region - and now they are hoping the public will follow their lead by building a simple monitoring trap.

Bradford City Councillor Michael Stelling and committee member of the Bradford Beekeepers Association explains: “ Everybody knows the importance of our honeybees and the benefits that they bring to conservation. It’s vastly important to get behind our beekeepers and support them anyway we can. That’s why I urge everybody who can to build this simple and cheap device and place it in their garden. It’s absolutely fantastic that people who care about conservation can help in such a simple way. All it takes is 2L plastic bottle, some wire, the means to fix it together and about half an hour of your time.

“It’s so crazy with such a simple device that you can have a major impact on your local environment and fight back against the Asian hornet.”

Former chairman of the Bradford Beekeepers Association, David Lamont, said the threat of the Asian hornet is still not yet understood but he emphasized the importance of vigilance among every bee-keeper and non bee-keeper due to the impact the Asian hornet can have on the honeybee population.

“It’s especially important to realise that these are monitoring traps and we don’t intend to kill insects that get trapped inside them.

“Please release our native hornets but retain the Asian hornet if you happen to catch one, that’s why identifying them properly is of

great importance.”

To help people identify the Asian hornet it has a dark brown or velvet body. It has a dark abdomen and yellow tipped legs and is smaller than the native European hornet.

Bill Cadmore, training officer with the Bradford Beekeepers Association, says: “The Asian hornet will, if it arrives, cause a real threat to the honeybee. It knocks colonies out very quickly.”

They say forearmed is forewarned so the greater the awareness, the more we can all do to protect the honeybee population.

Says Bill: “There are 120 beekeepers in Bradford but there is nearly one million people in Bradford, so if more people are aware of the problem we are more likely to treat it before it becomes a big problem.”

Based on current statistics of hornet growth and the first sighting at Tetbury, it is possible the Asian hornet could be present in our region as early as 2019.

A statement, issued by Bradford Beekeepers Association secretary, Brian Latham, spells out the necessity to continue protecting honeybees which are already, potentially, an endangered specie.

“With the potential devastation that the Asian Hornet’s present our Honey Bee population, it’s important that we can eradicate them before they become a problem. That’s why we have launched our public awareness campaign to urge members of the public, local organisations, schools and public bodies to help us with this fight.

“We need to get ahead of the Asian hornets before they can give us a devastating blow within our region.

“2019 is not so long away where we have predictions of the arrival of the Asian hornets in our region, that’s why we need to act now. This is where anybody can help us by simply making a Asian Hornet monitoring trap, a simple device that can be cheaply made within minutes. And these can be placed literally anywhere where wasps/hornets congregate, from private gardens to city parks and buildings.”

If, through regular inspections, any are found in the monitoring trap you are advised to visit where you can find out more information and advice.