How Not To Deal With A Bald Faced Hornet Nest

Posted By on September 17, 2012

I have to be honest this morning, I just had one of the most unpleasant weekends I’ve had in a while. I’m sure you can guess why.

If you didn’t see my last update, on how to catch a woodchuck, then you probably don’t know about all the apples that our trees have produced this year. Please see below.

Lots of Apples

Lots of Apples

Well, woodchucks aren’t the only animals to like rotten apples. Enter the bald-faced hornet.

While we were outside cleaning up apples last Friday, we noticed a lot of wasps around. It didn’t click that they were hornets, because its difficult to tell the difference unless you know what to look for. That clue comes in the form of what you see below.

Bald Faced Hornet Nest

Bald Faced Hornet Nest

We discovered this hanging not 50 feet from our back door, between our house and our apple trees/gardens. It is about the size of a human head, and probably harbored a few dozen hornets. We were so shocked, we garnered the attention of our neighbor who told us exactly what it was. At that point, it clicked in our minds what we were seeing all over the apples. The apples had attracted a hornet queen, who decided to set up a late shop right by a plentiful food source. Normally, hornet hives are constructed in spring. A September hive is only built in extreme cases, such as when there are thousands of apples around.

Taking the advice of our neighbor, I decided to attempt getting rid of the nest myself. After all, professionals can do it, why can’t a homeowner?

Let it be known, this is NOT the way to deal with a bald-faced hornet nest. I take no responsibility for anyone who follows the steps I took.

First off, I waited until night time around 10pm. All stinging insects, except the European hornet which hunts even at night, are dormant/sleeping at night. If they have a hive, they will spend the night in it. So my thought, along with my neighbors, was that you could eliminate all the hornets if you got them while they were home.

I dressed in layers. 3 layers to be exact. Sweatpants, sweatshirts, socks, hoodies and gloves. All but the tips of my fingers and my face was covered and sealed, in case they woke up.

After this, I scouted out the nest. I made sure, for about 5 minutes, that I saw no activity. There was none. They were completely inactive.

Next, I got a ladder (it was about 8 feet off the ground), and climbed up. It took me about 10 minutes to work up the nerve to actually do this step. Slowing and surely, I slipped a garbage bag around the nest and the branch it was built around. I attempted to be as quiet as possible, not rustling the bag at all. I got the bag secured around the nest, and clipped the branch. Slowly, I lowered the nest as I climbed down the ladder. All was going well…or so I thought.

I’m actually impressed I got this far, to be honest. When you understand just how aggressive these devils are, you can see why.

From Wikipedia:

Bald-faced hornets are protective of their nests and will sting repeatedly if the nest is physically disturbed. They are more aggressive than both the wasps normally called yellowjackets and members of the Vespa genus, and it is not considered safe to approach the nest for observation purposes. The bald-faced hornet will aggressively attack with little provocation.

Even the small amount of jostling that I incurred on that nest, was enough to wake them up. When I say small, I mean small! I am completely terrified of wasps/hornets, and don’t even like bees despite their benefits, so you can imagine that I didn’t want to wake them up. A 5mph wind would have jostled that nest more. Somehow, they just knew something was up.

Not even halfway down the ladder, I heard buzzing…getting louder and louder. I am not joking, there is nothing more terrifying than holding a giant buzzing garbage bag in the middle of the dark, not know what on earth you should do. Making it even worse was the prick I felt on my finger. One had managed to get through the bag opening that I had “sealed”.

At this point I yelled “Run!” to my wife, who was 20 feet away and completely terrified. We didn’t even stop to pick up our dropped flashlight…it stayed out all night, getting stung by angry hornets.

So let it be known, when you see hundreds of people stating that an insect is extremely aggressive and that its dangerous to even approach the nest, take them seriously. Call a professional. That’s what I’m doing, if they decide to rebuild their nest. Even now I feel like I have tiny needles poking me all over…

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2 Responses to “How Not To Deal With A Bald Faced Hornet Nest”

  1. Lynn says:

    Oh how I can empathize! I’m so sorry you were attacked. About 15 years ago, we had one under the eaves of the front porch. It was awesome — “Let’s watch it grow!” she said… One day about 2 months later, something set them off as we were all leaving to head out somewhere. I was the last one out the door and never made it off the porch before I was attacked. Thankfully it was me that they went for and not the boys. I got 9 stings, mostly around my neck. I was afraid they were heading down my shirt so off-it-went! Lesson learned.

    Until last year. Different hornet. Last year it was the European Hornet and they had a nest somewhere near the pig. Had to care for the pig so every day it was a battle. This year, we had a nest in or near the house — I kept finding them flying around in the kitchen. It took a Hornet sting in the kitchen to force me to take the time to seek out the nest and find the way they were entering the house. Then not a month passed by and I was attacked by some unknown pure black wasp or hornet out in the goat pasture! I saw 2 coming at me and got a direct-hit on my knee. How weird is that?

    Two weeks ago my husband was trimming an Arbovitae and he stirred up some type of a ground wasp or hornet. He escaped being stung because they attacked his chain saw instead. Maybe it’s time we invested in a few smokers?!

    • Jonathan says:

      Oh my! I think you should, yes, and also in a beekeepers outfit. That will let you dispose of them properly. I would guess that if the nest is never destroyed, the queens are just coming back and building new nests. 🙁

      I think my hornets are still using the nest, even though its in a garbage bag on the ground. I am just going to let it freeze, then remove it when they are dead. If they come back, they will be disposed of the right way!

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