Every spring the queens that mated the previous year emerge from their overwintering sites and begin to look for a suitable place to build a nest.
The new queen creates a small, golf ball-sized starter nest where she will lay the female eggs that will become her first workers.
There is a common myth that if you hang up or leave an old nest in place they will not choose to nest again in the area, this is untrue and does not work neither do the fake waspinator bags.
It is a dangerous time for the new queen wasp. She needs to hunt for small insects to feed her carnivorous brood and at the same time create her small nest by chewing up rotten or weathered wood, mixing with saliva to create the paper to make the nest.
She may abandon an early nest if it proves not to be as safe as she thought.
Once the first workers have emerged, she will then become a nest bound egg laying machine never to leave the nest, she now concentrates on laying eggs and the workers (Sterile females) take over the hunting, building & expansion of the nest.
Different species have different preferences for nest sites, they can be underground, in dense bushes or trees, in any cavity such as outhouses, sheds, roof spaces, and even bird boxes & a multitude of other places Nests consist of several combs, The combs are surrounded by an envelope of the same paper her combs are made of.
The wasp larvae are carnivorous, while the adult wasps are sweet feeders in a mutual exchange the worker wasps bring back meat to the larvae in the nest in return the larvae give them a small but important sweet feed in return a type of honeydew. This keeps worker wasps busy for the first portion of the nesting cycle and they pay little interest to other sweet items such as picnics, drinks fruit etc
But towards the end of the nesting cycle, the queen will stop creating workers and will start to produce fertile males and females who will leave the nest never to return, they will mate the males will die and the mated females will become next year’s future queens
At this stage the workers become redundant & the queen starts to lose nest control.
As less and less workers are being produced the workers no longer get their sweet rewards from the larvae & they start having to find their “Fix” elsewhere.
This is the main time of the year they become “Stingy” invading our picnic areas & beer gardens.
The now mated new queens will build up body fats for the long, winter sleep, and after mating the new queens will find a suitable spot to spend the winter.
The males having completed the one act they were born for they will die, born as lovers not fighters males cannot sting.
The workers now with no real purpose will just become the bane of those late summer evenings until the weather changes and they die from the cold.
After the winter and come the warmth of spring those mated queens will emerge and the whole cycle begins again.