Resembling grey-shaped pears with a single entry near the bottom, this photographed bald-faced hornet’s nest is abandoned, but was occupied by a large colony over the summer. In fact, bald-faced hornet colonies can reach 400 to 700 hornets and often build nests to be as large as basketballs.
Coming from the family of Vespidae and the order of Hymenoptera, and related to ants, bees, wasps and sawflies, the bald-faced hornet is known for its exceedingly large nests, which are built for only one purpose — raising more young.
Emerging from winterized hiding spots in the spring, nests are then built singularly in a chosen location by a queen born the previous season. Mainly constructed in a concealed area of branches, leaves and shrubbery, the queen builds a nest with a mixture of saliva and chewed wood, making it big enough to hold a batch of eggs.
The queen brings her newly hatched larvae a variety of insects chewed into bite-sized bits. She feeds and raises her young to be workers that eventually take her place for nest building, so she is only burdened for egg laying. Up until winter, which kills off the entire colony and queen, the all-female workers provide the queen and larvae food and protection, continuously adding to the nest to hold more eggs. An interesting fact, abandoned bald-faced hornet nests are never reused, but may be hosted by spiders or other insects for the winter.
For cycles to be repeated, queens during early autumn begin laying queen and drone eggs, which then hatch, mate, and venture off to hide themselves from the winter. Queens are the only ones to survive winter. Their concealed spots can include underground or hallowed logs and trees.
Addie T. Lindsay is 17 years old. She is an accomplished writer and photographer of wildlife creatures, big and small. She can be reached at CritterChatter@Live.com.