Hornets are wonderful to watch. They take off and circle around and sound like a small aeroplane. Although they are a member of the wasp family they are not so aggressive and tend to mind their own business as long as you choose not to interfere with what they are doing. I suppose you could say that they are gentle giants. They will sting if aggravated purely as a defence mechanism but usually their sting is a hunting weapon although they will in preference scavenge or opt for fallen fruit and sweet treats.
The hornet’s sting is made up from acetycholine and histamine which is painful but less of a problem than a sting from a bee. However, there will always be people who are unfortunate enough to have a bad reaction to the sting and need medical treatment.
Wasp and a Hornet feeding on some cherry jam
A hornet (vespa crabro) feeding on cherry jam. The hornet Queen can grow up to 35 mm in length but the average worker hornet is a mere 18mm although occasionally there have been reported sightings of worker hornets reaching up to 24 mm!