Beekeepers will get financial aid to tackle oriental 'killer' hornet population

Beekeepers will be able to invest in the necessary equipment to catch ‘queen’ hornets and bring down the population

Oriental hornets have been wreaking havoc on local honey bee colonies
Oriental hornets have been wreaking havoc on local honey bee colonies

A new financial aid scheme will help beekeepers buy equipment to catch ‘queen’ oriental hornets and repopulate the local bee population.

Agriculture Minister Anton Refalo announced the scheme on Wednesday, and said that this scheme will work alongside an information campaign on oriental hornets.

“With this financial aid, the sector will be able to invest in equipment to control the population of this insect while starting a repopulation process, as these hornets have left a negative impact on our country’s bee population,” he said.

Agriculture Director Marco Dimech explained that this aid will be offered to registered beekeepers. The Directorate for Veterinary Services will be sending applications to beekeepers directly.

The aim of the scheme is for beekeepers to buy the equipment needed to catch ‘queen’ hornets and bring down the population of oriental hornets.

Refala added that an information campaign will start in the coming weeks, so that the public can also take the necessary steps to control the hornet population.

Apiculturists have been ringing the alarm bells for months on the growing size of Malta’s oriental hornet population.

The Coalition for the Conservation of the Maltese Bee said in August 2022 that the spread of the oriental hornet, which is indigenous to the Maltese islands, and the increase in population size have been significant over the past few years.

The oriental hornet is reddish brown in colour with a distinctive yellow discoloration on its head and abdomen. It starts appearing at around May all through to October. The hornet has an aggressive temperament and is also a predator that can kill insects like grasshoppers and honey bees.

The concerns stem from hornet attacks on honey bee colonies. The coalition had warned that the hostile presence of hornets is leading to the death of young bees, a consequent drop in honey bee populations thus reducing the amount of honey produced every year.

Apiculturists said that the tendency of honey bees to protect themselves by staying inside their respective boxes rather than go out and gather nectar also endangers the preservation of natural habitats because of a lack of pollination.

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