Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract Full Text

Monitoring study in honeybee colonies stressed by the invasive hornet Vespa velutina.

Abstract

Vespa velutina is an invasive species that is currently the main concern for beekeeping in some areas of northern Spain. The hornet hunts honeybees to feed its larvae, stressing and weakening the honeybee colonies. To avoid losses of honeybee colonies, it is essential to investigate the pressure that is exerted by the yellow-legged hornet on apiaries and its consequences. In the present study, hives were monitored in an apiary that was situated in a high-pressure area of V. velutina during the years 2020 and 2021. The monitoring of environmental conditions of the apiary, the internal conditions of the colonies, and a hunting camera were used to relate the presence of hornets in front of the hives to the weather conditions in the apiary and the consequences caused on the colonies. The relationships between weather conditions and the hornet's activity showed two types of hornet behavior. In the months of July and August, the maximum number of hornets appeared in non-central hours of the day. Meanwhile, in the months of September and October, the highest pressure in the apiary occurred in the central hours of the day, coinciding with temperatures between 15°C and 25°C and a relative humidity that was higher than 60%. The honeybee colony with the highest thermoregulatory capacity was the strongest and it was the key factor for the colony survival even when the hornet pressure was high too. Therefore, strengthening the hives and improving beehive health status is essential to avoid colonies decline.