After wintering, hornet queens will build a new nest from scratch. Once the new workers have hatched, they will fly out and collect carbohydrates to feed themselves and the queen and will also hunt for protein to feed the larvae.

I’m interested in knowing how food collection for both larvae and queen are taking place before the role is taken over by the workers (as none have hatched yet).

  1. Does the queen collect both carbohydrates and protein?
  2. Does the queen leave the nest to collect food when there’s already larvae (as opposed to having stored enough food before starting to breed)?
  3. How long (in terms of weeks) after the queen started building a new nest until she can fully rely on her workers for food supply?

While I assume the answers to the first two questions to be ‘yes’, I have failed to find a source confirming this. My questions primarily refer to the Vespa Velutina (invasive in Europe), but I’m also interested to hear about differences in other wasps/hornets present in Europe.


1 Answer 1


I used the below articles to get the information. 1. the queen does collect both carbohydrates (nectar mostly) and protein (often bee flight muscles).

  1. Only found one case study of one nest for this, so not sure. The queen did leave the nest during the period when it would be expected to have larvae. The articles I read did not mention food storage in the nest.

  2. Same case study, the queen left the nest probably for longer than four weeks.

The developmental period was about 4I-42 days (egg 6 days, larva about 15 days, pupa about 20-21 days. from "Taxonomy, distribution and nesting biology of the Vespa bicolor group" (Hym., Vespinae) (1994) by Michael E Archer. found at https://www.academia.edu/4236740/Taxonomy_distribution_and_nesting_biology_of_the_Vespa_bicolor_group_Hym._Vespinae_1994_

This review article has a good overview. "Vespa velutina: a new invasive predator of honeybees in Europe" by Karine Monceau, Olivier Bonnard, and Denis Thiery. DOI 10.1007/s10340-013-0537-3. accessed at https://www.doc-developpement-durable.org/file/Elevages/apiculture/maladies&parasites/Vespa%20velutina_frelon%20asiatique/Vespa%20velutina%20a%20new%20invasive%20predator%20of%20honeybees%20in%20Europe.pdf

A case study of a captured nest (one queen, four workers) found that the queen stayed inside the nest permanently after 27 more days.

From "Observations on the colony activity of the Asian hornet Vespa velutina Lepeletier 1836 (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Vespinae) in France" Article in Annales- Societe Entomologique de France · January 2009 DOI: 10.1080/00379271.2009.10697595 downloaded from ResearchGate

There are also other articles that may have the answer, but in languages that I could not read.


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