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Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Hornet's Nest - Dangerous or Beautiful?

The baldfaced hornet is actually a black and white yellowjacket. They are beneficial, capturing insects to feed to their larvae.

A single, over wintering queen begins building the nest in the spring. She lays eggs and tends the first batch of larvae that develop into workers. In fall, workers die and next year's queens hibernate underground or in hollow trees.

Their nest is a gray "paper" envelope with several layers of combs inside. It is pear-shaped, with the larger end at the top and an entrance hole near the bottom. The workers expand the nest by chewing up wood that mixes with a starch in their saliva, which they spread to dry into paper.

Each nest contains one queen and anywhere from 100 to 700 male workers who are responsible for building and expanding the nest.

They can become aggressive and will sting repeatedly when their nest is disturbed or threatened. The main area of the body that they attack on humans is the facial area.

Most nests are often first noticed in fall when leaves drop, exposing the nest. By this time the hornets are dead or dying, and the nest will not be reused.

If you want to collect and keep the nest, this is the best time to do it, after for first frost or two around the end of October.

Now that I have given you a little lesson on hornets and their nests, look at the pictures of our hornet's nest in our maple tree. It hangs low over our back deck. We have a can crusher nailed to the deck to crush our cans with....and we've all heard the expression Don't Stir up a Hornet's Nest, so...

What do you think? Should my son continue to crush cans there or should he wait until the first couple of frosts when the nest is abandoned.

My son, who has courageously crushed the cans out there this summer with the gate to the deck opened for a fast get-a-way, is hoping you say no.

A follow up to this post is here.


  1. I wouldn't go near it myself. They don't like company!

  2. I vote he moves until the bees die out. Neat post-interesting info about the bees life.

  3. I believe I'd be waiting until a hard freeze comes along. But it is a wonderous creation, worth taking down and putting somewhere else - after a hard freeze.

  4. I have seen more hornet's nests this year than ever before. Thanks for the info on hornets, I haven't found much elsewere.


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