In this episode, we have a return visit with Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Sven-Erik Spichiger, to see how our honey bees’ newest threat, The Giant Asian Hornet, did last season in the Pacific Northwest.
The AGH was wildly sensationalized last year, picking up the moniker of “Murder Hornet”, which actually helped garner some attention to both this beast and the Department’s quest to locate nests and capture specimens.
Over 900 traps were placed in very northern Washington by department officials, 325 by private land managers and park officials, and private citizen scientists in the state put up over 1200 traps to assist in the venture. The promotional efforts of the Department were very successful and with this many traps, they caught 31 individual specimens, 15 from government traps and 16 from public outreach.
They did learn a lot about the traps and what to use for bait. Those that don’t kill a captured hornet were the best, so the specimen could be radio-tagged and followed, hopefully, back to its nest. This is where the USDA’s APHIS came in handy because they were able to supply additional tags for the program.
They were able to capture, and tag one individual and follow it
back to the nest, and eventually they found the nest it came from. Score 1 for the good guys.
What they still don’t know is how far virgin queens go when looking to mate, what else do they eat here (besides honey bees), and are there any natural predators or any diseases here that can be used in the fight. It’s also unknown how hard a Washington winter can be on overwintering queens. As of the date of this episode, it’s early April when we talked, the Department needs an army of volunteers to trap queens to stop them from forming additional nests.
To find out more, or to volunteer, touch base at https://agr.wa.gov/hornets
and see if you can help. Tell Sven we sent you. He can use the help.
Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:
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