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Vancouver Island beekeepers on alert for return of Asian giant hornets
VICTORIA -- Asian giant hornets, now known worldwide as “murder hornets,” could once again arrive on Vancouver Island and beekeepers are on high alert for the lethal creatures.
Beepkeepers Moufida and John Holubeshen first discovered an Asian giant hornets’ nest in Nanaimo back in August 2019.
“They got here once so there is a good chance they’ll do it again,” said John on Monday. “It’s possible, but unlikely.”
The B.C. government has warned British Columbians to keep an eye out for the hornets, saying they could return this spring and summer.
“There is a concern and renewed interest,” said Moufida.
There have been no new, confirmed sightings of the hornets in B.C. since last year.
Two Asian giant hornets were discovered near Blaine, Wash., in December, and one was found in White Rock, B.C., in November. The large hornets kill as many as 50 people each year in parts of Asia.
According to John, it is possible that the nest he removed in August was a secondary nest and there was a primary nest that hasn’t been found yet.
“We’ve had a lot of sighting that haven’t panned through,” said John.
Two women in Esquimalt recently thought they had discovered one of the deadly hornets in their home, but the Holubeshens confirmed it was not the same species.
“I’d never seen anything like that, it was huge,” said one of the women, Savanah Nieuwkerk.
B.C. environmental protection officer Conrad Berube, who was involved with the nest removal in August, said the creatures have large orange-coloured heads and are just under four centimetres long.
“The fact that we haven’t caught any doesn’t mean that there are none around,” said Berube. “It may just mean we are not good enough in our trapping techniques.”
Beekeepers all across the island are setting up traps to try and catch the hornets, if they are in fact here.
“Keep calm and keep bees, because the threat is really to the honeybees,” said Berube.
Holubeshen said the hornets have the ability to wipe out a whole bee colony in just a few hours.
Anyone who spots a giant hornet is asked to report the sighting to the Invasive Species Council of BC at 1-888-933-3722 or through the “Report Invasives” online portal.