RESIDENTS are being asked to report sightings of an invasion of Asian hornets that could cause ‘major problems’ to native bee species across Dorset.

The Asian hornet is an invasive species and are highly effective predators of insects, including bees.

The hornets are smaller than wasps and are coloured dark black and brown with an orange band on the fourth segment of their abdomen. They also boast a nasty sting.

The hornets kill all types of pollinating insects, but their favourite is the honeybee, which is why it is seen as a major concern across the UK and parts of Europe.

As the Asian hornets start to come out of hibernation, a Dorset councillor is calling for the public’s help in reporting sightings of the invasive species.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said: “Invasive species have the potential to cause huge problems for our native species and the Asian hornet is one where we can potentially stop it in its tracks if we are vigilant.

“Dorset Council is committed to doing everything we can to protect our native pollinators, in line with our pollinator action plan, and urges members of the public to report sightings of Asian hornet.”

The hornets will start to appear in two months and will begin laying eggs within nests which are usually found in towns or the countryside.

Any sightings of these insects should be reported immediately to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk with details of the location and a photo of the insect.

The government’s advice on Asian hornets explicitly states not to try to remove the nests by yourself because the hornets can act aggressively.

Following a report, a seasonal bee inspector will come and verify the sighting and will then call a team to eradicate the nest.

The British Bee Keeping Association advises: “If you find one you must report it. It arrived in France in 2004 and has spread rapidly. As a highly effective predator of insects, including honeybees and other beneficial species, it can cause significant losses to bee colonies, other native species and potentially ecosystems.”