My last encounter with Hornets was watching numerous workers gorging on Ivy in the Autumn of last year.
Shortly after arriving on the South Western edge of the patch on 30th May, just a few yards from the Ivy,I noticed something large and yellowish dart into vegetation in my peripheral vision. I could only think initially it was a Broad Bodied chaser, but a few minutes later a loud low buzz emanated in nearby vegetation and a Queen Hornet appeared.
Their size really takes you back, a solid 5cm makes it looks a formidable beast. It mooched about for a few minutes, down in the grasses and Cow Parsley, allowing me to get reasonably close. Unlike their Waspy cousins however, they are fairly chilled creatures as long as you pay them respect. They are the sole survivors of the nest, and overwinter tucked away in a tree hole or such like.
|A real Humdinger . 30th May|
Yesterday I had a similar morning encounter at the southeastern border of my patch, and then watched as the beast, of similar dimensions to the first, flew towards its probable nesting location. At a height of about 12 feet, the flight is fast and straight like a mini yellow Cruise missile.
My third sighting was the same afternoon , at the northeastern edge. A Hornet of possibly slightly less stature hummed into a modest Oak and spent a minute on an Oak Apple. Presumably it was hoovering out the Larvae within. An interesting bit of behavior to witness.
|Feeding on an Oak Apple|
I'm not sure what the range of a Hornets territory is. The three sightings make up a triangle whose sides are roughly 0.5 KM as the Vespa crabro flies.