Chickens and Asian Hornets

Landes: Could a chicken be the fatal weapon in the battle against the Asian hornet?

Translated from original article published on 1 October 2013 by Christine Lescoutte-Gardent (


A beekeeper in Biscarrosse has introduced chickens into his apiary to deal with Asian hornets


This pullet appeared to be particularly keen on Asian hornets. (Photo CL – G.)

It has been 10 years now since the Asian hornet has invaded France and as such has become a prominent member of the country’s biodiversity despite every effort to eradicate it. The hornet is present in sixty departments and has been reported in Belgium, Spain and Portugal and is the most talked about predator insect. Asian hornets are particularly keen on honeybees which provide an abundant source of protein thus posing a great threat to beekeepers. However, Francis Ithurburu may have found a suitable predator which may save his bees.

His passion for beekeeping made him focus on the Asian hornet and study it in more detail. Going back in time, he remembered that chickens often occupied the same enclosure as did bees. He thus tried out his experiment remembering also that young chickens (pullets and cockerels) require lots of protein for growth.

The pecking chicken

Francis has several hives and some chickens and so he decided to leave his chickens freely roam around the apiary. He noticed that “the young chickens that are let into the apiary will freely wander between the hives but will remain wary of any guard bees attacking them and will thus stay at a safe distance.”

Francis Ithurburu adds: “Incidentally, the young chickens will peck and feed on the bees that have fallen to the floor, either through illness or because they are dying, they will feed on dead larvae rejected by the cleaner bees and even on wax moths whose larvae can cause untold damage to bee colonies. More importantly, these young chickens consider any hornet turning up before a hive as a delicacy.  “It must be said that Asian hornets make a lot of noise and thus it is difficult for them to go unnoticed.”

Francis Ithurburu has noticed that as these young chickens grow, so do their hornet hunting skills improve. In the spring, the young and inexperienced queens are therefore neutralised as are the first emerging workers.

An infallible technique

He then found that the number of hornets around his apiary had reduced dramatically and the colony nearby had been wiped out. Francis Ithurburu has been conducting this experiment for three years and now feels that the Asian hornet has merely become a negligible epiphenomenon to his apiary.

His method also has many other benefits, as he explains: “I find the food supplement that the Asian hornet presents for my chickens particularly interesting. In fact, at the end of the year, when the hornet is no longer present and the hives require calm in order for the clusters to overwinter without being disturbed by the chickens, I overwinter them … in my freezer. ”

A natural and organic solution for all beekeepers to clear the Asian hornet away from their hives. A method that will also safely keep the area around the apiary clean.

Please watch Francis’ youtube video for more info. There is also an extensive Q&A for anyone who has any questions:


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