The Beautiful and, Unexpectedly Gentle, Giant Hornet, Vespa crabro

I found a big hornet yesterday, a magnificent Vespa crabro.

It was lying on the car parking area in front of the house and I think it may have collided with a car. It was showing some slight signs of life and so I laid this beautiful creature in an open jar with some leaves, honey and water.. just hoping that it would revive but sadly not.

I saw and heard one the other day flying by the water and have seen a couple more this year up in Lincs. They are hard to miss.

Before I started learning about bees and wasps I gave all buzzing things a wide berth. Now I am beginning to understand more about them and much of the fear has gone… but such a big wasp is something to be reckoned with.

I would not normally be willing to be so close, as  I, like most laymen, assumed that these were ferocious creatures, but it seems not to be the case.  Dieter Kosmeier in his site pleads for more understanding.

“Outside of the nest area hornets never attack groundlessly. Few people realise that hornets are amazingly peaceful animals, even shier than honey bees, which prefer to evade conflict. Scientifically it has been shown that stings of hornets are not more dangerous than bees and wasps. It is their considerable size (queen to 35mm) and loud flight noises that induce unnecessary fears. Those striking out in fear are those that may be stung”

So remember not to strike out in fear when this gentle giant happens by. It is probably on its way somewhere important and has not the least interest in us. This one I think was a female judging by the big square head. It is beautifully marked and worthy of a good painting, but I am short of time so a few sketches will do for now.

The Peaceful Hornet Vespa Crabro

hornet sm


Sketches on watercolour paper.

Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Beautiful addition to the sad, dead bee series! Love your art!


  2. Lovely. I thought of your blog this weekend, as I have had a big all-golden bumblebee visiting my bougainville plant. Like you, these insects used to alarm me, but now I'm fascinated!

  3. I now feel for this hornet, your drawings elicit sympathy – a giant in pain and dying.

  4. At this time of year it'll be a recently emerged queen, males don't appear 'till late summer/autumn. Count the antenna – females have 12 segments, males 13 (this goes for the majority of bees and wasps). More hornet info here:

  5. Just wanted to say that I love receiving your posts in my mailbox. I seem to be forever stuck to my computer,working, and your posts reconnect me to what is "real". I appreciate the educational info you include with your beautiful sketches.
    This one is lovely and also very sad. In bearing witness you have captured the emotion perfectly.
    Thank you.

  6. Thank you so much all. I am always sad to find these creatures dead but if the drawings elicit more sympathy and understanding than fear and loathing then I coudnt be more delighted and they have done their job.
    I am so interested in all your comments and they always make me consider what I am doing.

    RCponders: Thank you so much I have found that if I understand more about what I am drawing it doesnt make it a better drawing but somehow seems to give it more credibility and perhaps then it contains something of my emotional response to it. Its a small thing but having looked at the hornet more closely and read about it, I felt a rush of understanding for this beautiful creature and although I am still very wary of wasps I hope I wont be one who "strikes out in fear" now.

Comments are closed