A hornet, drinking at the Iris Pond, photographed by Clive Knight. Ian Bushell, our entomologist, has identified it as a queen.
Like wasps, hornets are not made for cold weather and a nest will die in the late autumn or early winter. But this new queen, which has probably already been mated, will be one of the few survivors. She will find somewhere to hibernate, a safe and sheltered place to spend the winter.
Next spring, as the temperature rises, she will begin constructing a new nest. She will look for a hole or crevice in a tree, or a dark roof space, but failing that, will happily build a nest in the open, hanging from twigs in a hedge or tree.
She will begin her new nest with just a few cells for the eggs that will hatch into the first workers of the colony. Once hatched, those workers will take over the job of building the nest. The queen will spend the rest of her life inside the nest laying generations of eggs while the nest and the colony grow until the end of next summer.