What is a queen wasp?
The queen wasp is essentially the leader of the nest, and her main role is to lay eggs. She has bright yellow and black stripes, with a triangle-shaped head, a distinctive ‘waist’ and a sharp pointy sting.
Emerging from hibernation during the spring, the queen chooses a suitable area to build her nest, such as a hollow tree or in the cavity of a building. She then begins the process of constructing her nest using ‘paper’ which she creates by chewing up wood.
As each cell of the nest is carefully built, the queen lays an egg in it. After about a month the eggs hatch into sterile female adult workers, who take over the building and foraging, while the queen continues to lay eggs for the rest of her life.
Larvae then hatch, and are fed by the adult workers. They eventually develop into fertile males, known as drones, and fertile females. The fertile females will become next year’s queens. Both the fertile males and females then leave the colony to mate and find somewhere to hibernate.
As the temperature falls through winter, the current queen and the adult workers die and the nest is left empty. The hibernating queens will ensure the continuation of the life cycle when they awake in spring.