Beekeeper despair as Asian hornets decimate hives in central Portugal

Beekeepers have been led to the brink of despair by the scourge of Asian hornets that is spreading relentlessly through the country.

Since they were first detected in Portugal eight years ago, these wily predators have been multiplying at a terrifying rate. 

Despite concerted efforts by the authorities to destroy nests, some are simply impossible to get to.

The trouble with this species that kills honeybees ‘one by one’ is that it builds its nests in high places.

The only known creature that hunts Asian hornets is the Honey Buzzard, but even that can’t keep up with the current threat.

Beekeepers in Castelo Branco have been lamenting the situation – some having lost almost all their hives.

Luís Barbosa, for example, says his battalion of 300 hives is down by 2/3s, representing ‘damages of at least 80,000 euros’.

Everyday someone else loses a hive, he told reporters. “There are those look likely to lose everything, even in agriculture”, he explained. “Without bees, there is no pollination and without pollination there is no fruit…”

Authorities have been as active as they can to destroy nests, but as beekeepers explain, sometimes they are in such inaccessible places it takes time to reach them – giving the hornets further opportunities to wreak havoc.

At last count, 30,442 nests have been destroyed, with 3,891 identified but still to deal with.

The scourge is most prevalent in the north and centre of the country – with the district of Porto alone having registered over 9,700 nests.

For the time being, the Algarve has got off lightly, with only one nest apparently to be dealt with.

Anyone seeing a distinctive Asian hornet nest should contact SOS Ambiente e Território on 808 200 520 or access www.sosvespa.pt

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com