Hornet Nests: A Complete Guide

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Hornets are social insects. They are related to wasps and bees and build nests out of paper. Let us get to know more about Hornet Nests.

Hornet nests are highly organized colonies that can have up to 3,000 members. Hornets are fiercely defensive of their nests, and anyone who comes too close will be stung.

Hornets are interesting creatures that build their nests from chewed wood mixed with their saliva to create a papery substance. The mixture is then used to construct the hornets’ nests to lay their eggs.

What does a hornets’ nest look like?

The nests can be as large as a basketball and are shaped in a teardrop. They always have one single entrance.

Hornet nest on the top of the tree

Hornets’ nests come in various shapes and sizes but are predominantly aerial. Hornets will also build their nests in very protective locations, such as under eaves or tree cavities. The hornets will gather mud, wax, and tree sap to build their nests.

Hornets build their nests by gathering mud, wax, and tree sap materials. They will use their powerful mandibles to cut pieces of wood into shapes that will fit together perfectly to form a nest. Hornets also create an airtight seal with their saliva to protect themselves and their eggs from weather conditions and predators.

How is the nest collected?

Hornet nests are made out of wax, which the hornets collect in the fall. The nests are generally collected by hand, although sometimes they can be knocked down with a pole.

The best time to collect a hornet’s nest is at night when they are inactive and have a minimal disturbance. Hornets are less aggressive at night, and you can easily take the nest without getting stung.

How do you locate a hornet nest?

Finding a hornet nest can be tricky, but you can use a few methods to increase your chances. One way is to put out attractants to lure the hornets close. These may include pieces of food or water at the correct time of year.

Look for telltale signs of a hornet nest as well. Such as large amounts of wasps flying around or an unusual amount of buzzing.

How big are hornet nests?

Hornets build nests that can be quite large. The size of the nest will depend on the species of hornet. 

Interestingly, giant hornet nests can get quite large, with a typical nest containing between 100 and 700 workers.

What are the types of hornet hives?

Hornet nests

There are three types of hornets found globally- the European hornet, the Oriental hornet, and the Asian hornet. The European hornet is the only type of hornet found in North America.

There are many different types of hornet nests, and each one has its own unique set of characteristics. For example, bald-faced hornets are found in the US, but they’re technically classified as wasps. Attach them to branches or trunks using a paper-like material that they produce themselves.

Hornets that live in high off the ground nests typically build their homes in trees, while those in lower nests nest near the ground in bushes or other vegetation.

Hornet Nests

Hornets build their nests in elevated areas, such as treetops, under roofs, decks, sheds, and garages, in hollow tree trunks or other similar locations. They will often choose an area sheltered from the wind and rain.

The hornet nests are typically large and football-shaped. They have horizontal combs that hang in tiers and are connected. The combs are used to store food and larvae.

When constructing their nests, hornets use various materials that they find in their environment. The most common material is wood, which the hornets chew up into small pieces. They will also use saliva to help glue the nest together.

The cells in the comb are where the eggs are laid, and the larvae develop. The nest is often surrounded by a layer of a papery material that helps insulate it from the cold.

Hornet nests can be collected for study but should not be collected before the insects have left the area. Beneficial to the environment as they help control other pests, so it is important not to disturb their nests unnecessarily.

How do hornets collect their nests?

Hornets collect their nests by waiting until the fall and then taking them down. They will attach their nests to trees, buildings, or other structures. The hornets will take the nest apart and reuse the materials for the following year.

They can collect nests during the summer, but it is important to do so quickly and without noise or disturbance. They become agitated if they feel threatened.

Moreover, hornet nests left outside will eventually dry up, and the hornets will abandon them. If the smell of a hornet nest is too strong, it can be left outside to dry rather than dealing with the hazardous process of removing it.

Are hornets’ nests dangerous?

Hornets’ nests are not inherently dangerous, but they can be if you’re allergic to hornet stings. If you’re not sure if you’re allergic, it’s best to avoid them. Hornets will aggressively defend their nests, so it’s important to stay away from them.

Hornets are harmless creatures if they and their nests are left alone. However, when hornets feel threatened, they can become quite aggressive and sting people, which is why 

Interestingly, hornets build their nests away from areas with a lot of noise and traffic. This is why you’ll likely find them in trees or at high points of houses. If you’re worried about a hornet’s nest near your home or property, be sure to contact a professional to have it removed.

Hornet Nest Activity

Hornet nests are most active from April to early August when the workers are busy building and expanding the nest. During this time, they can be very aggressive and protective of their territory.

Yellow headed hornets chewing the wood

Hornet nests can be found in many different locations, and the time of year that they are most active varies. In late summer through early fall, the reproductives will be producing eggs, and the colony will be at its peak size.

However, the colony will die off as winter approaches and by the end of November. The process is then repeated in the spring when new reproductives emerge.

Hornet nests are interesting to observe throughout the year. In late fall, the colony over-winters until spring, when the process is repeated. The queen hibernates in a protected spot, and the workers die off. In the spring, the queen starts a new colony by laying eggs.

How to get rid of hornet nests?

Hornet nests can be dangerous to remove and should only be done by a professional. Do not attempt to treat or remove a hornet nest on your own, as you could get injured.

Moreover, it is best to wait until dusk or after dark to treat the hornet nests when it’s cooler, and the hornets are less active and less likely to leave the nest to sting you.

Hornets living in the cells of their nests

Currently, the best way to get rid of hornet nests is by inspecting eaves, overhangs, and roofs for new nests and spraying them as soon as they are found.

Hornet Nest Defenses

Hornets and wasps have a smooth stinger that is less likely to cause injury. Their stingers can also inject venom, resulting in more serious injuries.

Hornets release a pheromone to help other hornets locate the nest. The pheromone alerts other hornets to the danger, and they will fly to the defense of the nest to attack any potential threats.

Differences between hornets, wasps, and bees?

There is a lot of confusion about hornets, wasps, and bees. They all belong to the same family Vespidae, but they are in different genera. Hornets are in the genus Vespa, wasps are in Polistes’ genus, and bees are in Apis. Within Vespa, there is only one species of hornet- Vespa crabro.

In contrast, hornets are not native to North America, but the European hornet ( Vespa crabro ) has been introduced.

Wasp nest which is different from hornets and bees

Moreover, hornets are yellow jackets. Two because they look similar, but there are some key differences. The bald-faced hornet is yellow, but it has black and white markings rather than the black and yellow markings of a common yellow jacket wasp nest.

Composition of the Colony

The queen is the only member of the hornet colony that reproduces. She lays eggs that will hatch into workers. These workers are responsible for running the colony, including nest building, food gathering, and defense.

Interestingly, late in the season, new queens and males are born. Furthermore, hornet nests only last for one year in temperate climates before they die off in autumn. Be aware of these timeframes when dealing with hornet and wasp nests.

Are hornets dangerous?

Hornets are dangerous to humans because of their venom. Hornets can sting, and the venom can be quite harmful. It is important to stay away from hornet nests and be cautious when around hornets.

While hornets can be dangerous to humans, they are also predators to other insects. Hornets threaten beekeepers as the local bees do not use predator-heating behavior and may be destroyed.

Hornet nest away from the predators

Final thoughts

Hornets are some of the fascinating creatures on Earth. A study of their different types of species and their lives reveals a common observation about the evolution of life on Earth: an animal species that has lived in a particular area for a long time has developed characteristics that allow it to thrive in that environment.

In conclusion, the fact when hornet nests are moved to a new environment, they must be introduced to their typical predators to maintain normal development. Otherwise, the animal may not develop properly, which could lead to problems in survival and growth rates.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.