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The Queen Hornet is the linchpin of the colony and without her, the colony could not survive. Only a few people get to see queens of the Vespa genus and are then usually frightened by the size, which clearly distinguishes the animal from the workers and drones. Due to their way of life, you will only encounter a queen hornet at certain times of the year, and certain characteristics can be used to clearly distinguish them from the other specimens.

Hornet Queen: Wanted Poster

At first glance, the appearance of a hornet queen resembles that of a classic hornet, but on closer inspection you will be amazed at what separates the "nobility" from the "folk". The following profile gives you an overview of the characteristic points of the queen, because most of the anatomy corresponds to that of the species:

  • size: 35 millimeters, about 10 millimeters larger than workers
  • wingspan: 44 to 48 millimeters (22 to 24 millimeters per wing)
  • spike: slightly larger than that of a worker bee, by about 4 millimeters
  • Weight: 1.1 grams during peak season, over winter and oviposition, 0.5 grams just before death
  • color: Same as worker bee, only with red or reddish brown parts of the abdomen
  • Life expectancy: about 1 year
  • Seat of the genital opening: below the spine
  • noise: deeper hum than workers

As can be clearly seen here, hornet queens differ mainly in terms of their size and weight. The significant drop in weight towards the end of life is mainly due to loss of eggs and debilitation from colony maintenance. Many people mistake queens for large workers because the color and pattern are very similar. Confusion with drones is rare as they are generally a bit darker. In addition to the characteristic features of the hornet queen, there are other points that clarify the life of the flying insects. You can find these below in the listed facts.

tip: The queen of the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) is one of the largest creatures belonging to the group of wasps, bees and hornets. They reach a body size of 55 millimeters with a wingspan of over 60 millimeters and thus immediately catch the eye when you encounter the dangerous specimens on a holiday in East Asia.

More facts

Due to its function, the hornet queen is the most important insect within the Vespa colony and cannot only be recognized by its characteristic physical features. Their lifestyle suggests whether they are workers or queens, as they are out at different times and this cycle allows them to maintain the colony. The following facts go into more detail about this type of hornet and what to look out for besides appearance:

flight times

Hornet queens only fly free for a short time each year. Most of the year they stay either in the nest or in winter quarters. You can only encounter a hornet two times a year. The first time becomes the hornet queen middle of May fly out after she leaves her winter quarters, which she moved into as a hornet princess the previous year. Within a short time she starts building the nest and raises the first workers. The second time you can turn off young hornet princesses September encounter, which fly out and mate at this time. Workers and drones, on the other hand, are out and about every day from May to October.


Hornet queens perform multiple functions throughout the year. At the beginning of their lives, they mate with the male drones to establish the colony the following year. After the winter break, they build the first honeycomb and take care of the first larvae until they have grown. Now the most important function of the queen comes into play: egg production. From May to October, the queen produces up to 40 eggs a day and at the same time takes care of the organization of the colony, which can increase to 600 animals. If a queen is no longer able to maintain control over the colony, the entire colony perishes miserably.


The mating of young hornet queens, the princesses, comes to an end September instead of. These are sexually capable workers who receive more food and are therefore well protected for the winter. From September these fly out together with the male drones and mate outdoors. In doing so, they store the sperm in their bodies that will allow them to start egg production the next year. If you spot swarms of hornets in early fall, it's Vespa mating.

winter quarters

After mating, the young queens immediately look for winter quarters in order to reduce the time spent outdoors (keyword: predators) and not be surprised by a sudden cold snap. They prefer wall gaps, cracks, self-made tunnels in wood, rarely underground cavities or human dwellings. Many hornet queens fall victim to predators in their winter quarters.


A queen hornet's sting is just as painful as a worker's and not poisonous enough to harm you. allergy sufferers insecticide However, you should be careful not to get stung, as this can lead to anaphylactic shock.


From May to October, the queen is mainly occupied with laying eggs and is completely exhausted at the end of the season. The animals usually survive only until mid-October and leave the nest two weeks before to die outside the colony. The workers try to keep the colony alive during this time, but die over time and the nest is abandoned. Only the young queens survive in the winter quarters.


Like other hornets, the queens feed primarily on prey such as bees and wasps. It is also possible to feed on plant juices and nectar. Don't worry, hornet queens stay away from human food, even sugar sources, compared to wasps.

Hornet, Vespa crabro

tip: Vespa crabro belong to the specially protected species in Germany and may not be caught, hunted, killed or their nests destroyed on your own initiative. Particularly severe penalties with fines in the five-digit range and even imprisonment are possible if the queens are harmed in a targeted manner, as they are necessary for the preservation of the hornet.

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