We like to keep abreast of the latest bee, wasp, and hornet news here at Hooting Yard. According to The Telegraph our plucky British honeybees are at risk from swarms of killer hornets. The fiendish Vespa velutinae have reached France, where “thousands of football-shaped hornet nests are now dotted all over the forests of Aquitaine”. We will be setting up a Hornet Patrol soon, so drop us a line if you wish to volunteer. Badge, cap, and whistle provided.
As I live on the very frontier of our island I can play a vital role in seeing off these malevolent invaders with their sinister agendas. When their formations begin to darken our skys I shall let them “have it” with my trusted, though somewhat elderly, Wasp Cannon.
Take heart little bombus your salvation is at hand.
(my cap size is 7 and…. where’s the seven eighths button gone?)
Please do not encourage people to blow whistles at hornets. It is well known that hornets are attracted to high-pitched sounds and have been known to attack persons blowing whistles on a number of occasions – the most famous being Charles Martel who was stung to death by hornets whilst playing a sort of penny whistle. The monument to Charles in the cathedral at Aachen (Germany) has hornets carved around the entablature.
Stan, do you have a picture handy of the monument (with or without hornet details)?
Frank, I am sorry I do not have a picture. Actually I made a mistake and should have said that Charles Martel is buried in St. Denis, just outside Paris. It is of course Charlemagne who is buried at Aachen. Just out of interest, it is a little known fact that hornet honey is highly poisonous but that Oliver Cromwell had, through habituation, become immune to the effects and was using the honey for its hallucinogenic purposes. It is also rumoured that when Cromwells body was dug up after the Restoration and his head was exhibited on London Bridge, a swarm of hornets took up residence in the head and built a nest there. Poisonous honey is not unusual in the natural world, indeed many North American bees make honey that is poisonous to humans.