We Marked the Asian Hornet Queen!

The founder of a hornet’s nest is the pillar of the entire colony. To understand their development, it is useful to mark the Asian Hornet queen. Why? Because we want to be sure she is still alive and not replaced by a lookalike. Marking the Asian hornet queen, is it a crazy bet? Vaguely possible or not? Well, we did it!

Tracking the primary nests

This spring, we had the opportunity to closely follow the founding of an Asian hornet nest. This queen settled right next to us. So, instead of acting quickly, we chose to observe her very, very closely. In parallel with the trapping operations, it is useful to understand the dynamics of the colony. We fixed a camera on the nest 24/7 for over 60 days.

Why mark the Asian hornet queen?

As we observed, it became evident that we needed to confirm if it was still the same queen. Indeed, nothing looks more like an Asian hornet founding queen than another founding queen. Moreover, there are many opportunities for replacement among Asian hornet queens. Many times, we saw other foundresses lurking around the nest, as if they thought, “This nest is beautiful, I would take it, it would save me a lot of work”. So yes, there are battles and the risks are high for a queen to be ousted.

Taking action: marking the hornet queen live

So, we decided to mark the hornet queen. Let’s say we weren’t really friends, but we cohabited in a certain harmony, which helped simplify the operations. We took the bee marking equipment and used a similar approach… except that, in this case, the wild hornet queen had to enter our box on her own. We’ll spare you the details and invite you to watch it in the video!

Afterward, it was much easier to follow her activities. Veronica Vélutina, as we called her, successfully led her first brood of workers. Then, she reduced the number of her excursions into nature… but that’s another story.

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