A BEE-KILLING Asian hornet has been spotted and captured in Christchurch.

The predators can kill up to 50 honey bees in a day and a warning has been issued by the East Dorset Bee Keepers Association.

Association members said they hope the discovery, made in Highcliffe on Monday October 1, is an isolated incident.

But the UK’s first sighting of an Asian hornet this year came at nearby New Milton in June.

The hornets can wipe out entire colonies of bees within hours by waiting outside their nests and attacking returning bees.

Those inside then become too afraid to leave and are weakened, before the nest is attacked by hornets.

Experts say they are particularly attracted to ivy, which is now in season.

The association has put out a warning on its Facebook page.

It says: “We have been made aware of the confirmed sighting and capture of the Asian hornet in the Christchurch area. All members must take proactive steps now. It is hoped that this is an isolated incident local to this area. However we strongly advise that action is taken all over.

“At the moment within the area the hornets are extremely interested in the ivy that is now in season. The ivy is a feasting board for them with both nectar and other insects to pick off. If you have ivy in your garden please play close attention and watch what is flying around it.”

Association chairman Ivor Kemp urged anyone who sees an Asian hornet to report it to the National Bee Unit.

He added: “There are huge risks associated with Asian hornets which have been demonstrated in France where they have devastated the honey bee population.”

He said they also target bumble bees and wasps, which are also pollinators.

In September last year scientists attached an electronic tag to a captured hornet to locate a nest.

The nest was located in Brockenhurst and was destroyed.

At the time Defra said the risk of Asian hornets being found in the UK is higher during summer months and urged people to check their luggage after returning home from travelling abroad.

Chief plant health officer, Nicola Spence, said: “By ensuring we are alerted to possible sightings as early as possible, we can take swift and effective action to stamp out the threat posed by Asian hornets.”