THE Ryedale Beekeepers Association has sent out advice to all its members following the discovery of the "voracious" bee-killing Asian hornet in the UK.

Rhona Sutherland, who helps run the association, said that emails had been sent out to beekeepers in the district with updates and advice on what they should do if they see a hornet - as well as plans for a session on making hornet traps.

Beekeepers across the country have expressed concern since two dead Asian hornets (Vespa velutina) were found in Gloucestershire last week, apparently confirming their presence in the UK.

Also known as the Asian predatory wasp or the yellow-legged hornet, this "invasive" insect is native to south-east Asia. It is believed to have first been transported to Europe in pottery from China.

It is feared because of its tendency to hunt and kill honeybees, which could have a devastating effect on numbers of these already declining pollinators. The hornets lurk outside the entrance to beehives and then, as the bees fly out, they kill them by biting off their heads.

Dr Sutherland has told Ryedale beekeepers: "It is late in the season and queen hornets will be going into hibernation in four to six weeks. The most important time to start looking is early next spring, February or March, when queens come out of hibernation.

"We must assume that Asian hornets can survive in Yorkshire until proved otherwise."

She added that there is a session planned on beekeeping in Vietnam where Asian hornets occur naturally, and a practical session on making hornet traps.

In Gloucestershire, work to identify, destroy and remove any nests is already underway.

Nicola Spence, of Defra, said: "It is important to remember they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, though we recognise the damage they can cause to honey bee colonies."

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of Buglife, said: "Its arrival is of huge concern. Our pollinators are currently in decline from pesticide use, loss of habitat and climatic change; this voracious predator now could push some species beyond the tipping point and into extinction."

Asian hornet workers are 2cm long and a queen is 3cm. They are more smoky black than the native hornets and have yellow legs. Anyone who thinks they have seen an Asian hornet can report it to Defra, ideally with a photo, at