Page last updated at 10:50 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 11:50 UK

Chinese invader risk to Channel Island honeybees

Vespa velutina (AFP)
The Chinese hornet has spread across France since 2004

The Channel Islands' honeybee population could be ravaged by Chinese hornets coming across the Gulf of St Malo from France, beekeepers have said.

The wasps, scientific name Vespa velutina, are thought to have reached France on a boat from China six years ago and have spread rapidly.

The insects rip honeybees to pieces, then invade hives and eat their larvae.

Chris Tomkins, of Guernsey Beekeepers Association, says there is concern that the wasps could reach the islands soon.

Mr Tomkins, vice president of the association, said beekeepers were still hoping that the cold winter might be the saviour of the honeybee.

They are at the moment a big problem for bees in France because they target and eat honeybees
Max Watkins

He said: "It likes a warmer climate than Guernsey can give it all the year round so maybe it might not survive the winter, and then it would cease to be such of a problem to us because it couldn't develop in the quantities it has in France."

In France, a hive of 30,000 bees has been known to be killed by 30 Chinese hornets within an hour.

Max Watkins, from Vita Europe which makes medicines for honeybees, said the hornet was a potential threat which could significantly reduce the islands' bee population.

"They are at the moment a big problem for bees in France because they target and eat honeybees.

"They've got into France on a shipment from China and from there they've spread."

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