Is the Asian Giant Hornet a threat to the European honeybee population?
Under the crusts of trees and the ground of Gipuzkoa (Spain) there are thousands of wasps waiting for spring to give them back their activity. Among them: the Asian species "Vespa velutina", the Asian Giant Hornet, which has extended its population in the whole area of Gipuzkoa during the last years. The first colonies in Europe were detected in France in 2004, originated from a merchant ship from China.
Since then, this destructive insect has devoured the bees of thousands of beehives placed in Gipuzkoa - according to the calculation realized by the president of the beekeepers' association of Bidasoa, Iñaki Bengoetxea. He observed the mode of operation of the killer wasps. Five hornets need only a few hours to terminate a beehive, which has no chance of defense. The raid is devastating. The hornets attack incoming bees, loaded with nectar, from above and cut off their head, wings and paws before devouring them.
The wasps attack honeycombs to search for larvae of bees which they use as food. In this video it's possible to observe the events with spectacular precision.
The Asian giant hornet "Vespa velutina" is predominantly black with a broad orange stripe on the abdomen and a fine yellow band on the first segment. Its head is orange, and its legs are yellow at the tips. It measures between 17 and 32mm.
The Asian hornet spreads out many kilometers per year. Meanwhile they were spotted - among other European countries - in Spain, France, Great Britain and Germany.
Source (spanish): http://proyectgoliath.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/las-avispas-asiaticas-han-devorado-las-abejas-de-mas-de-2-000-colmenas-de-gipuzkoa/
Asian hornet in Germany (german): http://www.ages.at/ages/landwirtschaftliche-sachgebiete/bienen/bienengesundheit/merkblaetter-bienengesundheit/asiatische-hornisse-vespa-velutina/
Photo by KENPEI / en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_giant_hornet