SWARMS of vicious hornets are making their way across the English Channel to attack our honey bee colonies.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs warned the insect is due to arrive as it reaches its peak season of activity in mid-September.
The Asian hornet may be seeking out new territories by crossing from the Continent to the British Isles.
A Dfra statement said: “It has spread very quickly to many areas of France where it is reported to be causing many problems for both beekeepers and biodiversity in the country. The hornet can predate on bee colonies, causing significant harm.”
It is slightly smaller and darker than an ordinary hornet but packs a vicious sting.
The department has pleaded with beekeepers to report sightings or send suspected samples to the National Bee Unit laboratory.
Asian hornets were first recorded in Lot-et-Garonne, south-west France, in 2005, after arriving in a pottery shipment from China.
They spread across France but until now were blocked from coming to the UK by the English Channel.
'To protect bees from invasive threats it is important for all beekeepers in England, Scotland and Wales to sign up to BeeBase,' a statement from Defra said.
It has asked anyone who thinks they have seen an Asian hornet to notify the GB Non Native Species Secratariat alert at the email address email@example.com immediately.
Suspect sample can be sent to the National Bee Unit laboratory for examination if possible.
Defra advises using a suitable sturdy container (cardboard rather than plastic) and providing as much detail as possible about the hornet and where it was found, along with digital photographs to help with identification.