In Brittany, a beekeeper has developed an award-winning trap at the Lépine competition, capable of targeting only Asian hornet queens. All without any chemicals.
Their nests are not detected until August, but make no mistake, they have been present since early spring, when the founding females break free from their hibernation. They are now found under roofs, in attics, hedges, or garages. If Asian hornets mainly attack bees, they can also attack humans, and a few bites are enough to be life threatening. So, how do you get around it?
For several years, several approaches have been tested. One of them, proposed by Denis Jaffré, based in Locmélar, east of Brest, is the most interesting.
Tired of seeing his bee colonies attacked by Asian hornets, the Breton beekeeper began to think about it from the first appearances of these predatory insects in France. “I saw them for the first time in 2009 around my hives. We lived with it. But in 2016, I lost 35 colonies out of a hundred. It was a real trauma for me. I thought about it day and night, I couldn’t do anything else ”, explains Denis Jaffré.
Very quickly, the beekeeper focuses on the queens. He captures a few, marks them and observes them. He then made the following observation: “In the spring, they fight for a nest. If we manage to capture them, we prevent the colonies from developing ”.
Up to 150 queens captured in spring
In a few months, he then developed a trap sized to the nearest millimeter developed using a 3D printer. This is thought to attract (with wax and honey) and only retain hornet queens while allowing the exit of other insects, such as bees and wasps. With this approach, the beekeeper ensures that he can capture up to 150 queens in the spring. During this time, his bees are living normally. And for good reason, the hornets will look elsewhere.
Awarded at the Lépine competition in 2018, the Breton created his company, JabeProd, which presents itself as an alternative to current techniques for destroying nests. “In 2019 in Finistère, we destroyed 6,000 nests. And yet, there are still just as many. This shows that the curative has no effect on the proliferation of the species because at that time, the queens left the nest to settle elsewhere “, he explains.
His company also destroys nests, but strategically targeting queens while taking care to avoid the use of chemicals that are harmful to biodiversity. Its trap is now sought by communities and other professionals in the sector. Recently, several dozen of them have been installed in Biarritz, and they obviously attract hornets as well as tourists.