Insects: Bald faced hornets

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bald-faced hornet nest
Photo by Frank Kleyn

Text and photo by Frank Kleyn

An ornamental plum tree draped above my Richmond Beach roof is the home for a large bald-faced hornet nest.

Bald-faced hornets are not truly hornets, and are more closely related to yellow jackets.

In the spring, bald-faced hornets begin building their paper nests suspended in the protective branches of trees. The spherical nests, created with wood fiber and saliva, can reach three feet in height.

Their nests house a large colony with a queen and hundreds of drones and workers.

When the rains and cold winds of autumn return to the Pacific Northwest, the queen will fly off, leaving the other hornets to die and the nest will be no longer be active.


Anonymous,  August 1, 2016 at 9:24 PM  

Perfect timing! I just found a whopper on my fence near a rarely used gate. An internet search led me to believe they were 'bald-faced hornets" but the picture you published could have been taken in my yard! If in fact they are beneficial insects - how do we keep ourselves living peacefully with them?

DKH August 1, 2016 at 9:48 PM  

Frank says: Not being an expert, I would guess that the best advice is to determine whether or not the nest is near enough to humans that it could be disturbed. If it's able to remain where it is without any human disturbance, they should be able to carry on throughout their active season. The nest above my house will not be disturbed unless I'm foolish enough to go under it and clean the gutters. I'll wait until the cooler weather arrives and the hornets are no longer active.

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