Last year I photographed a hornets’ nest in an old woodpecker hole; well, it was two woodpecker holes really. A green woodpecker punched a decent sized vertical shaft, about 350 mm long, in the trunk of a healthy oak tree on Hoo Wood ridge, with an entrance hole at its top and bottom. I watched the woodpecker excavate the hole, over the summer of 2011 I think.
The hornets had done a proper job of papering over both entrances before they died at the end of last year. A pile of dead hornets grew at the base of the oak as the winter nights grew colder.
This year, the same nest is active again, but the new batch of hornets are unpredictable and have stung people. I tried to photograph them a few times during the last two months, but they have mobbed me each time.
The last three times on passing the nest, hornet activity had decreased, inspite of day and nighttime temperatures being unusually high at the moment.
This morning the nest was quiet, so I lightly tapped the trunk and this hornet answered the door. The entrances have not been papered over, so I think there is something wrong in the nest. When I lightly tap the tree trunk A few hornets fly away from the nest instead of showing interest in me. They probably think my tapping is a woodpecker wanting to eat them, so the few hornets that are in the nest panic.