RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Before the so-called “Murder Hornets” were spotted in the Pacific Northwest, bee inspectors were looking for them in North Carolina.
Don Hopkins, the chief apiary inspector for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture tells CBS17 that traps for exotic pests such as “Murder Hornets” were placed at farmer’s markets last summer, but they never found any.
The “Murder Hornets” are technically called Asian Giant Hornets, but got their nickname for the way they ravage honeybee hives.
The name alone is alarming for local beekeepers like Jeremy Hays, who owns the Fuquay-Varina Bee Company.
“I think it’s a valid name because it murders bee colonies,” he said.
Hays has thousands of honeybees spread throughout 25 hives on his Fuquay-Varina property. He tells CBS17 he’s not concerned.
“If this hornet would spread, then yeah, we would get concerned if it managed to get its way across the country,” Hays said.
Experts at N.C. State’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic say only a small amount of hornets have been spotted in the Pacific Northwest and that it’s unlikely we’ll ever see them in North Carolina.
“As far as we’re concerned, it’s not found anywhere else in the U.S. at all,” said Matt Bertone, an entomologist and director of N.C. State University’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic. “It’s been intercepted at ports and other places before. But it is not located in North Carolina.”
Bertone tells CBS 17 he’s received at least 50 reports about possible Murder Hornet sightings.
“What it is, is the close relative, the European hornet, which is almost as big and can have a painful sting,” he explained. “But they are not aggressive unless you mess with their nest.”
Overall, apiary experts say the biggest threat facing North Carolina honeybees are mites.
“There are pests that are in the state, or are very close to coming in the state, that we need to spend our resources on, rather than a hornet that is almost certainly not going to be in the state anytime soon,” Bertone said.