Remodeled

Yesterday morning, I photographed the latest addition to our backyard bald-faced hornets’ nest. In the days since I’d shown you this nest, the workers had added a floor and entryway on the bottom and some eyelid-style vents on the top, transforming what had been an open, bell-shaped structure into a covered, well-ventilated sphere.

Storm damage

And then came yesterday afternoon’s torrential thunderstorm, which sheared off the outer layer of the nest, exposing its inner chamber.

All day today, the hornets have been working nonstop, some of them tending to the fat white larvae in their cells and others worrying over the outer edges of the nest’s papery surface, repairing it with individual mouthfuls of chewed wood fibers. It takes a while to build a paper wall if you’re moving one tiny mouthful at a time, but hornets (like bees) are tireless and resilient creatures. I have no doubt that within a week, if left undisturbed, these sister hornets will rebuild their nest as good as (or even better than) before.

Tending the larvae

Bald-faced

J discovered a bald-faced hornets’ nest in the shrub right next to the gate to our backyard dog-pen: a shrub J and I pass every time we take one of the dogs out or in, and a shrub I pass every time I get into or out of my car. The nest is small by hornet standards–only the size of a tangerine–and we had no idea it was there until J trimmed the shrub last week, and the hornets came buzzing after him.

Tangerine-sized

J is good about backing down in the face of angry hornets, so he wasn’t stung…and now that he’s finished trimming “their” shrub, the hornets have gone back to being placid, non-aggressive neighbors, quietly tending their larvae and otherwise ignoring the man, woman, and dogs who pass them multiple times a day.

Now that I know the nest is there, I take care not to brush up against this particular shrub, and I know to steer the dogs clear of it, too. If we were to remove this nest, hornets would take up housekeeping elsewhere nearby, potentially where we didn’t know to watch for them. For the time being, I feel safer knowing who my neighbors are and where exactly they live, and I’ll continue not bothering them if they continue not bothering me.