A small introduction to our knowledge here at Sykes Pest Control.

A wasp nest is a wonderfull piece of engineering constructed from wood which the wasps strip from fence panels and garden sheds etc. The queen wasp starts building the nest from scratch in the spring after she emerges from hibernation.

Wasp nests grow at varying rates depending on a variety of factors.
Food being key in early summer. If there is a shortage of food, the numbers of individual wasps will not be as high as "normal" years.

Available nest material is also important. Wasps strip untreated dead wood from fence panels or garden furniture and sheds which is converted into a paste that the wasps use to construct their nest. Wasps do not swarm in the same way as honey bees. Wasps only swarm around the nest location when the nest is tampered with such as when a nest is treated. 

When foraging, scout wasps find a source of food, they return to the nest to communicate the location of the new food source. In late summer/autumn when wasps no longer have a food supply in the nest they start to search out sugary foods such as fruit, beer, and carbonated drinks. Midsummer onwards into late autumn you will be able to easily tell if a nest is live. Take a few moments to watch the nest from a safe distance. If you can see wasps walking over the outside of the nest then it's live. Similarly if you can see wasps arriving at the nest and also leaving, the nest is live.