Can AI save honey bees from Asian hornets?

New research shows AI can identify the invasive species with almost perfect accuracy, allowing authorities to mount a rapid response

Just one nest of Asian hornets can kill an entire beehive in a matter of days.

The species, also known as a yellow legged hornets, have been spreading across mainland Europe since arriving from China 20 years ago.

In an effort to stop them establishing themselves in England scientists from the University of Exeter are using AI to keep tabs on where they are.

Computers have learnt to identify the insects from cameras mounted in special bait traps. Experts can then use the data to triangulate and trace where the nests are and destroy them.

The AI traps will be an extra tool in the armoury of apiarists who are already trapping and reporting sightings of Asian hornets.

“This monitoring device is really important because it can change the accuracy and the speed in which we can detect the hornets in an area and if we can do that then we can track the hornets back to their nests”

What is an Asian Hornet?

  • Asian hornets are smaller than their European relatives but still have a nasty sting. You can identify them by their yellow legs, orange face and dark abdomen with single yellow stripe.

  • It’s believed the came to France onboard a shipment of pottery from China.

  • They are an apex predator and each hornet can kill up to 50 insects including bees and wasps.

  • There have been 102 sightings of Asian Hornets in the UK since 2016 - the highest numbers were recorded last year.

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