Aug 29, 2023
US honeybees have faced many threats. Climate change, pollution, and habitat loss are among them. Then, in 2019, the helpful pollinators saw a new worry. It was an invasive species from Asia, nicknamed “murder hornets.” They arrived in the Pacific Northwest. They aggressively attacked honeybees. Now, “bee hawks” have been spotted for the first time in the US. They are the murder hornet’s yellow-legged cousin.
A beekeeper in Georgia first noticed the hornet. It was on his property this month. He collected one to send to the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA). The GDA then worked with officials at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the University of Georgia (UGA). The GDA made a determination. The hornet was a living specimen of Vespa velutina. It is the scientific name for the yellow-legged hornet.
Yellow-legged hornets are native to Asia. They feed on honeybees and other insects native to the US.
Keith Delaplane is a honeybee specialist at UGA. He told reporters where the "bee hawk" nickname comes from. "They're very agile," he said. "They can swoop down and capture honeybees in air and from the front of their hives."
The GDA launched a system to find and trap yellow-legged hornets throughout the state. It hopes to protect vital honeybee populations. Bees pollinate $15 billion worth of crops each year. This is according to the USDA. Any interruption of their work can devastate farmers’ crops. That’s why officials have asked the people of Georgia to help wipe out the pest.
Mark Davidson works for the USDA. He told The New York Times that the public can play a key role by reporting potential sightings of the hornet.
Photo from Unsplash courtesy of USGS.
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