There are a lot of wasps about this spring (2014). Unless some predator kills a lot of them, or they get some horrible wasp disease there is going to be a plague of them later this year.
These great big ones you see early in the year are the queens. The emerge towards the end of summer then, after mating, they overwinter in dark corners of your shed or in the hive roofs. I heard of somebody who would stack lengths of timber with little lats between them to provide tempting crevices to attract hibernating wasp queens. Once they were all tucked in and asleep – he’d go and pull all the lats out for christmas.
You see them in spring as they are building their nests and before any young have hatched. Once the young emerge, they do all the work while the queen stays at home laying eggs all day – or up to common stuff like the one in the photo sticking her tongue out or scratching.
The one in the photo above attracted out attention because it seemed very dark in colour – the top of its abdomen is almost sooty looking. Then we reckoned it was probably soot. Probably from prospecting for a nest site in the chimbley.
Yes, we marked it but we didn’t clip it and we released it into the wild. We treated it quite well while it was with us – we kept it warm and fed it regularly with honey so we’ll be very interested to see if it comes back.
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