Saturday, 19 October 2013

Hornet Nest (Words, Pics and Movies)

Wasps, who’d ‘ave ‘em? Er me actually…For me there’s too much hysteria connected with them (worse than the ‘Yuk, snakes are slimy I don’t want to hold it’ misconception) because they are organised, striking, brave, loyal and hard working and there are more than just the ones that take a likely to your sugary pop on a summer day…solitary wasps for instance.
I guess most people who have swung by this blog (thank you by the way) will have seen a wasp or indeed a bee nest, but I wonder how many have seen a hornet nest? Not as many I suspect.

I live near Amwell lakes which is sandwiched between  the river lea and river ash and is fairly well known for its smew and bittern visitors and there’s a prominent hide  to the rear of the main lake which is reached by a long boarded path that ultimately runs between the lake and the afore mentioned River Ash (where I’ve seen Fergal Sharkey fishing but that’s another story) and there’s an old tree stump the other side of the wooden railings that hornets have made their nest in.

We went for a family bimble the other day and after a quick visit to a hide over the far side of the lake headed back and I noticed not one but two hornets flying towards the stump, I've only seen single hornets so two grabbed my attention. It was a moment or two before I noticed a couple more hornets at rest...and then realised that it was actually a nest...and then saw the prominent sign advising that it was there...that we'd managed to walk past first time!

I'd managed to forget my camera and of course fate had meant that I needed it on this occasion but I decided that this was worth another visit with it so I returned minus the family the next day. It was a rather cool and misty day and there were only a few hornets to be seen, both flying a resting so I stood a reasonable distance away to see if they accepted me standing there...they did and I watched for some time whilst taking pictures. The noise of them flying past your head sounds like a whooshing light sabre.

I decided to try taking a little movie footage on my camera and luckily they started to come out of the nest in some numbers when I did. Once I'd got the shots I wanted I decided to make my way home. It was well worth the return trip as they are magnificent. 

Video footage of the hornets




  1. Very interesting but where's the movie?

    1. Technical gremlins sorted and the video is now loaded at the end of the blog...better late than never!

  2. Hi Austin,

    Nice blog post. As you can imagine, given the amount of time I spend in the woods, I've seen a few hornet nests over the years. In my experience they are generally quite placid and less aggressive than European wasps but the fearsome reputation of their sting added to the noise they make when buzzing around you, makes them overly feared. That said, I wouldn't want to interfere with one of their nests. The only problem I've ever encountered with hornets was a good few years ago when we discovered that, like moths, they are attracted to bright lights at night. It turned out there was a nest in a nearby oak tree, the entrance of which was only small, where a branch had snapped off the trunk about 12ft above the ground. Several of the insects got inside a gas lantern we were using, the heat of which caused them distress. Others were flying into people's faces as they used head-torches. Thankfully, no-one was stung. The answer was to switch off the lights and leave the next morning for another camping spot.

    Warm regards,