Worcestershire Record No. 16 April 2004 p. 12
You might be interested in our hornet experiences, although we have not seen any this year (2003). We do not live in Worcestershire now - if you believe the county boundary signs on the A44, we live in a no-man's-land between Worcestershire and Herefordshire (but it does not work where council tax is concerned!). In fact the Marl Brook at the bottom of our garden is the county boundary - so we almost qualify, and our hornets almost certainly will have visited Worcestershire at times. We moved here seven years ago (December 1996) and have seen hornets for three or four of those years. In 1999 I think we had just one visit me when I was cooking in the kitchen. I will not relate what happened to it - suffice to say that I had not met one before and thought it might be a queen wasp!
In 2000 we saw them occasionally in the garden. I think they might have been nesting somewhere, but we did not discover where. In 2001 they were almost certainly nesting in one of our sheds. The shed was full of the sort of stuff which accumulates, and when one moves house it has to come too, because if we throw it out we will need it next week and have to buy another! We told ourselves we did not want to disturb them, and left them to it. They were not at all aggressive and were welcome visitors. Our own honey bees are more temperamental, and have stung John several times when he has been innocently gardening near the hives.
It was 2002 though, which was our real hornet year. They chose to nest behind the fascia board right outside my bedroom window. It was quite fascinating watching all their comings and goings. However, I do like fresh air in my bedroom, and I do normally read for half-an-hour before going to sleep, and insects are attracted by light! Trying to read in bed, with two or three demented hornets zooming around the room is problematic, especially when they mistake one's forehead for the light. I threatened them with all sorts of horrible fates, but in the end a spirit of peaceful co-existence won and we put up with each other for the rest of the year. They collided with me a few times, recovered and continued their zooming. Perhaps I was lucky, perhaps it was the way I spoke to them (although thinking about some of the names I called them, I doubt it), but I was never stung. I don't know what happened to them - I only ever found a couple of dead ones, and I doubt whether they found their way back out of the window at night.
We did not see any during 2003; do they ever use the same nest site in consecutive years? If we have any in 2004 I will keep more careful records. Hope this might be of some interest.
(I have seen more queen hornets in various parts of Worcestershire in spring 2004 than ever before. Perhaps 2004 will be THE hornet year. We should be pleased to receive records, especially of nests, and any interesting hornet stories! Ed.).
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