Asian Giant Hornet Threatens Honey Bees

Ernie NeffPests

Adult Vespa mandarinia
(Photo by Allan Smith-Pardo, Invasive Hornets, USDA APHIS PPQ)

The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), typically 1.5 to 2 inches long and a threat to honey bee colonies, has been found in Washington state. Amy Vu and Jamie Ellis with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory recently provided information about the pest.

“This insect has recently been called the ‘murder hornet,’ though that name is not used by scientists or beekeepers,” Vu and Ellis wrote. “Asian giant hornet … is native to Japan and can be found in many other countries throughout Asia. The first colony discovered outside of Asia was found in British Columbia, Canada in September 2019. Its first known appearance in the U.S. was in fall of 2019 in Blaine, Washington. To date, this hornet has not been found in the U.S. outside of its very limited distribution in Washington.”

Vu and Ellis report that the hornets hunt adult honey bees at the hive entrance. “They transport dead bees back to their nest where they feed them to their developing offspring. Many times, beekeepers will see the aftermath of the attack, and not the hornet itself. Managed honey bees in the U.S. pollinate many of the nation’s crops, thus playing a significant role in our agriculture and economy.”

In addition to being long, the Asian giant hornet is described as having a large orange/yellow head with prominent eyes, and a black and yellow striped abdomen. It typically nests in the ground.

Anyone suspecting they’ve seen the Asian giant hornet in Florida should report their concerns to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry. Reports can be emailed to Provide photos and samples only if it is safe to collect them. Vu and Ellis emphasize that they don’t recommend approaching a nest of any social insect to collect samples. Those outside Florida can report suspected finds to their state’s department of agriculture.

See the complete information from Vu and Ellis.

Source: UF/IFAS Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory, Entomology and Nematology Department