Country Living Series

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bald-faced hornets

We have a fairly large bald-faced hornet nest on our front porch.

I'm guesstimating it's about eight inches in diameter (though -- ahem -- I'm not about to climb up on a ladder to measure it).

Bald-faced hornets are fearsome stingers who aggressively defend their nest... but only if disturbed.

It's fascinating to watch them add new layers as they enlarge it, though it seems like an awful lot of work for a temporary result.

We have no intention of trying to take it down since they haven't bothered anyone. The dogs are constantly in and out through the front door and under the nest, and no one has ever been stung.

Nests are abandoned by the end of the season (around November) when all the workers and drones die off, and any newly-fertilized queens burrow underground to hibernate.

So around December or so, we'll collect the nest, maybe dissect it to see what's inside.

Meanwhile, as long as we don't disturb them, the wasps pay us back by eating things like blow flies and those nasty flies that adore cow patties. I say, more power to 'em!


  1. About 1952 my great grandfather and I were alking around my grandfather's place in late fall and we came upon a hornet's nest under a barn eve. He then told me a story about when he first got married in the winter of 1894 and he was hunting rabbits on his farm and found a fornet nest. He cut it down from the bush it was in and took it home and hung it in the parlor. That evening as he and great grandma were sitting in their rockers on each side of a table with a oil lamp between them, in front of the woodstove he heard a buzzing. Picking up the oil lamp he found hornets all over the ceiling. They quickly went to bed. The next morning after the woodstovehad gone out the hornets had froze so they swept them up and threw them in the stove along with the nest. Don't do that yourself he told me. Also he said that hornet nest makes very good wadding for your muzzel loading shotgun or in your shotgun shells.

    1. Hi Anonymous --- I really enjoyed this story.

      Just Me

  2. I would be really, really nervous to have them on the porch. I think I would have to go out there after dark with two cans of Raid Wasp and Hornet spray and let them have it. Then I would run to the back door screaming like a little girl!

  3. Actually its a work of art when you can look at it like this.... and not running flat out looking back over your shoulder! It looks like its paper thin but I have a feeling its stiff and firm. Thanks for sharing and I hope you pots photos when you cut it open

  4. Have you seen "The Hunger Games" movie? I just thought the hornet's nest was part of your "homeland security". LOL!

  5. we get a hornets nest built every summer in the same spot on the ceiling of our back porch...right over the porch swing..and every summer my hubby goes out there armed to the teeth to get rid of the hornets and their nest. i have been stung very badly by hornets and i say good riddance.

  6. Maybe so far no one's been attacked, but don't know if I'd want to see how long my luck might hold out. When the leaves fall off the trees I bet you could find an abandoned one to cut open. It is fascinating to take one apart.

  7. Those bald=faced hornets invade my honey bee hives and kill honey bees. I hate them. I'm happy to kill them every chance I get.

    Xa Lynn

  8. Hornets eat flies? I didn't know that fact.

  9. I'm a little late to this party...

    EWWW! I just hate anything that can sting me, but especially hornets. (Bees are forgiven.)

    I cringe just looking at them with their long legs and oddly jointed bodies.

    BTW: It's good to see Major out enjoying life.

    Just Me

  10. I leave wasp nests up if I find them late in the season. If the nests survive the winter, my hope is that the next spring new wasps will think a colony has already claimed the spot and move on. Haven't had a nest re-used yet.

  11. This summer we had a scary almost fatile encounter with bald face hornets. My hubby came out of a outhouse and was stung 6 times. We where 30 miles from the hospitol when he sent into shock and had a seizure. No Thanks, I go on a war path now against these things.