Hornets' Nest Sting Operation
⚠️ WARNING!!!!! ⚠️
POTENTIALLY DISTURBING PHOTOS
If you do not like pictures of hornets, hornets coming out of holes in nests, or of dead hornets and larvae, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG ARTICLE!!! At least not right before bed!!! ... But those with a scientific bent will find it ... uuuum... sort of fascinating.
Our daughter, Carlianne, was pruning a rhododendron bush in our garden last summer and spotted an insect that she called a “Beebra” because it had the black and white coloring of a zebra, but it looked like a bee! (She was homeschooled – by me – what can I say!? 😄)
Another picture, closer... (This photo was obtained at great personal risk by the photographer, Carlianne!)
As Carlianne continued pruning, she discovered, about two feet away, a hornet’s nest! It was the size of a small lemon, 🍋 nestled up in the bush!
Within a few minutes, she put 2 (the "beebra") and 2 (the nest) together and figured this must be its home. For you mathematicians, here is the actual equation: 2 ("beebra")
+ 2 (the nest)
[This must = its home]
The picture below is actually a screenshot of the video she got of the beebra coming out of the nest. Carlianne is much braver than I am!!! To videotape a hornet coming out of its nest... 😲 do you realize how close you have to get to it to VIDEOTAPE?!?!?
FASCINATING but YUUUUUUUKKY!!! 😖
She posted a picture of it online, asking if anyone knew what it was. Someone told her it was a Bald-Faced Hornet, adding that they are very aggressive.
Carlianne discovered she was right the hard way when it zoomed into her hair, which was pulled up in a bun, and she was panickly quick, so she whisked it out before it had a chance to sting her, but it was still traumatizing!
Good thing she got it batted away because we found out hornets are able to sting over and over and over again! 😲 They don’t lose their stingers like bees do!
I called an exterminator, but wouldn't you know, they do pretty much everything but hornets and bees! ❌🐝❌ (Why even bee in business?! Get it?)
There was an urgency in annihilating the nest soon because we figured there were probably at least a few "future-baby beebras" in that nest that we did not want growing into full-size hornets on our property! (And we were right, as you will soon see!)
So I did some research online and found out there are different ways to do a DIY hornet’s nest removal, noticing that "nerves of steel" were often mentioned. 😫
In one video, the man recommended examining the nest and finding out if it has more than one obvious opening. If branches go through the nest, natural openings – a.k.a. “escape routes” – are right next to those branches.
Most of the nests we saw were very large – one was the size of 2 or 3 footballs! With our nest being the size of a small lemon, we weren't facing that challenge.
So the next night, Dave – a.k.a. “My Hero” – prepared to "take care of the problem." Or "wipe them off the face of the rhodie bush."
He gathered a small box, a stand-up spotlight, and a can of Bee Bopper Wasp and Hornet Spray that a friend, Larry, a professional tree feller his whole life, had given him. He still dabbles in tree felling, so he gets this stuff by the case and uses it in the woods when he's falling trees. I'm guessing it's a lumberjack's best friend. It sure quickly became our best friend that day!
REASSURING SIDE NOTE: Dave had used this spray on a bee out in his work shed earlier that day, and it immediately died! In fact, he showed me the dead bee a few hours later, and it was actually still stuck on the wall, frozen in its beeish tracks right where he had sprayed it! It died so quickly it didn’t even have time to try to fly away!
So Dave was confident that this spray would do the job quickly in the hornet’s nest.
I was watching the whole operation from inside the house behind an open-but-screened window right next to the rhodie bush, feeling fairly protected by the screen. But I have to admit that I did stay back from the screen a bit on the off-chance that an angry hornet would be able – and certainly willing – to fly up to the window backwards and sting me right through the screen, the holes of which I'm sure actually were large enough to allow a stinger to pop through them.
So I thusly covertly observed Dave quietly sneak up to the rhodie in the dark. He quietly set the spotlight on the ground shining it up at the nest – so that he could have both hands free to perform the deadly deed.
Dave poised the can of Bee Bopper near the nest and quickly sprayed it directly into the hole in the nest.
Within two seconds max, the nest fell to the ground!
With NO hornets zooming out!
I whispered to Dave through the screen "Is there any life in the nest?!?" (No idea why I whispered!) Glancing at the carnage on the ground, he said there wasn't.
That doesn't mean an attacked-and-angry-as-a-hornet hornet couldn't conjure up one final heroic spurt of strength for one final angry sting, though! So I wasn't so sure!
INSIDE THE DOWNED NEST
We reeeeeally wanted to see what was inside the downed nest, so Dave used scissors to cut it open – which is what you see around the nest – pieces of it that he had cut away so that we could see what was on the inside!
He used scissors to pick it up and put it into the box. He said he could take it around to the front porch so I could see it, which I cautiously consented to. I wasn't sure if this was a good idea; after all, I value my life and my comfort! But hey, if any hornets came to life, at least Dave and I would go down together!
Finding the hive carnage to be just as disgusting as it was fascinating – let’s just call it “disgustingly fascinating” – I had to get a few pictures to show family… and now YOU as well!
My photo shoot of the fallen hornet’s nest is very low-quality because:
A) It was night so the lighting was poor. Plus...
B) It was quick. As in the fastest photoshoot I have ever done! This was only 30 seconds after the spray-bombing had actually happened and I was afraid a supposedly-but-not-actually-fully-dead hornet or one of the larvae would suddenly spring to life and make an angry beeline to me – so I did not want to get close to the carnage for longer than one quick, panicky second at a time.
⚠️ FAIR WARNING! ⚠️
These last few pictures might be downright disturbing to some of you just because they are of hornets and their larvae. And dead ones at that. Which is certainly better than live ones if you're with them "in person"!
Dave used the scissors to cut into the nest, so that flippy piece on the left was just cut away from the hole that reveals the larvae. That hornet looks pretttttty dead there!
Another view of it...
With the scissors, Dave cut away more of the nest wall, pushed back the crusty nest sides so we could see more of the larvae.
Plus now we could see a second hornet under the piece to the lower left.
That's all the science dissecting and examining I could stomach, so after I had gotten all the pictures I could force myself to take, Dave took the box with all the contents out to the fire pit and burned it! 🔥
Our hornet sting operation thus went up in smoke. Much better than still being up in the rhododendron bush.
Thanks to Dave, my Hero, who, in addition to being a former cop, (retired September 15, 2017), is now also an official Hornets’ Nest Remover!