Friday, October 9, 2020

Hornet Thoughts- Mid October

 Pushing toward mid-October now, a few more weeks of potential trapping left (though Mr. McFall's hive last year wasn't attached until November, I've been told- so who knows?). and then, if nothing happens, we're back where we were - though with more potential hornets out there.  Apparently a mild winter on the horizon, and the possibility of multiple queen survival- in addition to the increased spread of the hornet's range. None of this looks that great.

The state has installed 4 of the traps on this website (3 built by myself, and 1 by Dr. Looney), and volunteers have installed at least 14 within the Blaine area. Compared to the 2,000 bottle traps out there now, those numbers aren't too significant- and it seems unlikely to me that the two, a hornet and this trap,would cross paths. But should no colony be found- then the stakes go up. Bee hives are a proven bait- and though only one hive to date has suffered attack, that we know of, increased colonies will increase the chances, and necessity.

 When I look at the spread of hornets on a map- there are certainly anomalies. Nanaimo apparently has reported more finds (though B.C., for some reason, remains silent on it's data and doesn't appear to have done much), and even Bellingham, well away from Blaine,  has an early find. 

These are big animals. And being big, they are built to fly well, and to fly long distances. Hence the power of "hornet juice"- the saliva of larva that adults feed off of, and which allow an increased range. It makes total sense- a big insect needs extra power to move outside its home colony's range to reach new feeding grounds- and because it can, the spread is rapid. An animal with legs only- like an ant- is going to take a lot longer. Thus- this is very serious. 

The hornet isn't the first invasive animal here to challenge beekeeping here- it's just the biggest, and scariest. I'm (personally) not afraid of tracheal mites, or Varroa mites- both invasive and with impacts way out of proportion to their sizes- but the AGH has that extra power- of being a danger to a beekeeper.

I saw today a Bald Faced Hornet (another Vespa, or two (I think?) in this country besides AGH) land on a landing board like a YJ and try to get in. I have a great fear of them (having been badly stung once by an attack), and I could feel my fear. I can't imagine not freaking out entirely with AGH's around- and my hives drawing them in. My safety, my family's, me neighbors- even if I could somehow protect my hives, I couldn't keep bees if other people live nearby. So- it's a very big deal, and I imagine plenty of people feel the same way.

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