At this time of year, native European Hornets (Vespa crabro) are venturing out of hibernation and starting to build their nests. Hornets appear very similar to common wasps, but are larger and coloured chestnut-brown (rather than black) and yellow. The largest of the British social wasps, they build papery nests in hollow trees, although hornet nests have been discovered in wall cavities and chimneys.
Recent media reports within the Midlands have reported on Asian Hornets (Vespa velutina) and/or Oriental Hornets (Vespa mandarina). In actual fact, each of these reports has subsequently been identified as the European Hornet.
Hymettus Ltd is a registered charity that gives advice on the conservation of bees, wasps and ants within Great Britain and Ireland and they have some useful information sheets.
There is also an interesting article from the National History Museum that compares the three species and provides additional information Natural History Museum Article
“There have been no confirmed sightings of Asian hornets in the UK – they are smaller than our own native hornets and are no more dangerous” according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). “We are aware of the potential impacts they could have on honey bees and have plans in place to eradicate them if they are identified. In Great Britain we would not expect Asian hornets to establish outside southern parts of England and Wales due to colder weather.” Further information from DEFRA can be found here DEFRA/Beebase