Chasing the queens of the alien predator of honeybees: A water drop in the invasiveness ocean


The Yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina , was accidentally introduced in France in 2004, and then spread rapidly through the French territory but also to adjacent European countries (Spain, Portugal, and Belgium). During summer and autumn, V. velutina workers hunt domestic honeybees, Apis mellifera, for feeding their larvae. The impact of this alien species is mainly economic, beekeepers experiencing heavy colony losses, but also ecological, V. velutina hunting other pollinators. In their year-round life cycle, nest initiation by single queen during spring is the critical stage. In invaded areas, spring queen trapping using food baits has been promoted by apicultural unions in order to limit V. velutina population expansion. The goals of this work were 1) to evaluate the yield of this method, 2) to identify appropriate sites for trapping, 3) to identify potential optimal climatic windows of capture, and 4) to quantify the impact on local entomofauna. Our results showed that water proximity enhances trapping but not beehives proximity, and that trapping is inefficient if average week temperatures are below 10°C. Although the trapping effect on biodiversity should be studied more carefully, spring queen trapping is highly questionable unless specific attractants could be proposed.

Share and Cite:

Monceau, K. , Bonnard, O. and Thiéry, D. (2012) Chasing the queens of the alien predator of honeybees: A water drop in the invasiveness ocean. Open Journal of Ecology, 2, 183-191. doi: 10.4236/oje.2012.24022.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Arca, M. (2012) Caractérisation génétique et étude comportementale d’une espèce envahissante en France: Vespa velutina Lepeletier (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Ph.D. Thesis, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris.
[2] Haxaire, J., Bouguet, J.-P. and Tamisier, J.-P. (2006) Vespa velutina Lepeletier, 1836, une redoutable nouveauté pour la faune de France (Hymenoptera : Vespidae). Bulletin de la Société Entomologique de France, 111, 194.
[3] Villemant, C., Haxaire, J. and Streito, J.-C. (2006) Premier bilan de l’invasion de Vespa velutina Lepeletier en France (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Bulletin de la Société Entomologique de France, 111, 535-538.
[4] Rortais, A., Villemant, C., Gargominy, O., Rome, Q., Haxaire, J., Papachristoforou, A. and Arnold, G. (2010) A new enemy of honeybees in Europe: The Asian hornet Vespa velutina. In: Settele, J. Ed., Atlas of Biodiversity Risks— From Europe to the Globe, From Stories to Maps. Pensoft, Sofia, 11.
[5] Beggs, J.R., Brockerhoff, E.G., Corley, J.C., Kenis, K., Masciocchi, M., Muller, F., Rome, Q. and Villemant, C. (2011) Ecological effects and management of invasive Vespidae. Biological Control, 56, 505-526. doi:10.1007/s10526-011-9389-z
[6] Roy, H.E., Roy, D.B. and Roques, A. (2011) Inventory of terrestrial alien arthropod predators and parasites estab- lished in Europe. Biological Control, 56, 477-504. doi:10.1007/s10526-011-9355-9
[7] López, S., Gonzáles, M. and Goldarazena, A. (2011) Vespa velutina Lepeletier, 1836 (Hymenoptera: Vespidae): First records in Iberian Peninsula. Bulletin OEPP/EPPO Bulletin, 41, 439-441.
[8] Bruneau, E. (2011) Le frelon asiatique, déjà là. ActuApi, 55, 1-6.
[9] Villemant, C., Barbet-Massin, M., Perrard, A., Muller, F., Gargominy, O., Jiguet, F. and Rome, Q. (2011) Predicting the invasion risk by the alien bee-hawking Yellow-legged hornet Vespa velutina nigrithorax across Europe and other continents with niche models. Biological Conservation, 144, 2150-2142. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.04.009
[10] de Haro, L., Labadie, M., Chanseau, P., Cabot, C., BlancBrisset, I. and Penouil, F. (2010) Medical consequences of the Asian black hornet (Vespa velutina) invasion in Southwestern France. Toxicon, 55, 650-652. doi:10.1016/j.toxicon.2009.08.005
[11] Spradbery, J.P. (1973) Wasps: An account of the biology and natural history of social and solitary wasps. Uni- versity of Washington Press, Seattle.
[12] Blot, J. (2009) Fiche technique apicole: Le frelon asiatique (Vespa velutina)—Le piégeage des fondatrices. Bulletin Technique Apicole, 36, 55-58.
[13] Haxaire, J. and Villemant, C. (2010) Impact sur l’ento- mofaune des pièges à frelon asiatique. Insectes, 159, 1-6.
[14] Johnson, D.H. (2006) The many faces of replication. Crop Science, 46, 2486-2491. doi:10.2135/cropsci2006.04.0277
[15] Johnson, D.H. (2002) The importance of replication in wildlife research. Journal of Wildlife Management, 66, 919-932. doi:10.2307/3802926
[16] McCaffery, B.J. and Ruthrauff, D.R. (2004) Spatial variation in shorebird nest success: Implications for inference. Wader Study Group Bulletin, 103, 67-70.
[17] Tallmon, D.A. and Mills, L.S. (2004) Edge effects and isolation: Red-backed voles revisited. Conservation Bi- ology, 18, 1658-1664. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.00439.x
[18] Kelly, C.D. (2006) Replicating empirical research in behavioral ecology: How and why it should be done but rarely ever is. Quarterly Review of Biology, 81, 221-236. doi:10.1086/506236
[19] Monceau, K., Wattier, R., Dechaume-Moncharmont, F.-X., Motreuil, S. and Cézilly, F. (2011) Territoriality vs flocking in the Zenaida Dove, Zenaida aurita: Resource poly- morphism revisited using morphological and genetic analyses. Auk, 128, 15-25. doi:10.1525/auk.2010.09247
[20] da Rocha, A.A. and Giannotti, E. (2007) Foraging activity of Protopolybia exigua (Hymenoptera, Vespidae) in different phases of the colony cycle, at an area in the region of the Médio S?o Francisco River, Bahia, Brazil. Sociobiology, 50, 813-831.
[21] Kasper, M.L., Reeson, A.F., Mackay, D.A. and Austin, A.D. (2008) Environmental factors influencing daily foraging activity of Vespula germanica (Hymenoptera, Vespi- dae) in Mediterranean Australia. Insectes Sociaux, 55, 288-295. doi:10.1007/s00040-008-1004-7
[22] de Castro, M.M., Guimaraes, D.L. and Prezoto, F. (2011) Influence of environmental factors on the foraging activity of Mischocyttarus cassununga (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Sociobiology, 58, 138-141.
[23] Taylor, L.R. (1963) Analysis of the effects of temperature on insects in flight. Journal of Animal Ecology, 32, 99-117. doi:10.2307/2520
[24] Edwards, R. (1980) Social wasps: Their behaviour and control. Rentokil Ltd., Sussex.
[25] Sileshi, G. (2006) Selecting the right statistical model for analysis of insect count data by using information theoretic measures. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 96, 479-488.
[26] R Development Core Team. (2008) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
[27] Perrard, A., Haxaire, J., Rortais, A. and Villemant, C. (2009) Observations on the colony activity of the Asian hornet Vespa velutina Lepeletier 1836 (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Vespinae) in France. Annales de la Société En- tomologique de France, 45, 119-127.
[28] Matsuura, M. (1984) Comparative biology of the five Ja- panese species of the genus Vespa (Hymenoptera, Vespidae). Bulletin of the Faculty of Agriculture Mie University, 69, 1-131.
[29] Matsuura, M. and Yamane, S. (1990) Biology of the Vespine Wasps. Springer Verlag, Berlin. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-75230-8
[30] Gourbière, S. and Menu, F. (2009) Adaptive dynamics of dormancy duration variability: Evolutionary trade-off and priority effect lead to suboptimal adaptation. Evolution, 63, 1879-1892. doi:10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00731.x
[31] Dauphin, P. and Thomas, H. (2009) Quelques données sur le contenu des pièges à frelons asiatiques posés à Bor- deaux (Gironde) en 2009. Bulletin de la Société Linnéenne de Bordeaux, 37, 287-297.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.