How to Preserve a Hornets’ Nest

Hornets are tropical insects that live mostly in Asia. These insects can also be found in Europe, Africa, and North America. In fact, the European hornet was a research effort by scientists who gradually introduced these stinging insects to the continent. Funny enough, people want to understand how to preserve a hornet’s nest.

how to preserve a hornets nest

Hornets have a reputation for being invasive and harmful. Notwithstanding, they only sting when they are threatened – especially near their nests. They deliver painful stings that cause serious pains – but not long-term damage. A threatened hornet can also squirt venom in the eyes of its aggressor, causing temporary blindness. People allergic to this venom may come down with serious medical complications.

It can be surprising to find hornets building a nest in your home. However, hornets love staying close to their source of food such as flowers, utility poles, tree branches, shrubs, refuse dumps, and trash within a close range to their home. These nests could be located in small crevices in home siding, tree barks, or decayed logs. These spots provide an ideal place for hornets to make nests, and that is why people want to know how to preserve a hornet’s nest.

Hornets’ nests, which are made of chewed wood fiber mixed with saliva created by the worker hornet, are usually displayed in nature centers, schools, and other educational facilities. Surprisingly, they can be safely preserved for indoor display. So, it is understandable why we would want to preserve them. Let’s take you through the steps involved in preserving a hornet’s nest.

How to Preserve a Hornets’ Nest

Materials you need

  • Gloves
  • Bag
  • Newspapers
  • Clear polyurethane spray

The steps

  • Collect the hornet’s nest for preservation

The first step towards preserving a hornet’s nest is to collect the nest. The easiest way to do this is to wait until after the hornets have abandoned their nest during the fall in October. The nests are homes to the hornet only during certain times in the year. They last for just one summer and then the occupants either freeze to death during the fall or simply die off due to old age.

Just before the nests get destroyed by wildlife or the elements, it is advisable to collect them as soon as possible. The collection process involves a bit of courage on your part and some degree of creativity. It would be best to collect the nests in the dead of the night when everywhere is chilly and there is no disturbance.

Take a large plastic bag with you – carefully wrap the bag around the nest. Close the bag shut. If the nest is situated in a tree branch, you can cut the branch to make things easier for you. Sometimes, you will find some hornets and their larvae inside their nest no matter the time of the year that you recover them. Place the bag in a freezer overnight and you will wake up to dead hornets that pose no threats again.

To avoid getting stung by a hornet, leave the nest in your garage or porch where it is protected from the elements until the winter period. Be prepared to encounter a bad smell. This is expected, since the remaining hornets and their larvae produce a bad odor before they completely dry up.

  • Coat the nest with polyurethane spray

Set the hornet’s nest on a sheet of newspaper. Spray the nest with a clear polyurethane spray. When hung in a dry place where the nest is not disturbed, there would be no need to spray. Notwithstanding, the coating gives the nests some form of protection, especially if they are going to be displayed in a school or museum for observation.

Many folks decorate their homes for the holiday season using a hornet’s nest. While hornet nests are good for teaching students about these insects, they are also natural ornaments if carefully preserved.

Mounting your hornet’s nest

Hornet’s nests can serve as decorative pieces when hung on walls, placed on a mantle, fireplace, or shelf. It is important to hang the nest high and dry, keeping them away from the reach of children, pets, and mice.

Just like any other decorative item in your home, you must regularly dust the nest periodically. While some people prefer to coat their nests for preservative purposes – leaving them bare can make them look more natural. These nests can last for about two decades in their natural state. However, if deterioration sets in, it might be quite necessary to coat them.

Mounting a former breeding place for insects such as hornets in your home can be exhilarating. It is worth trying out. Although you can find these ornamental nests in craft stores or online, nothing beats collecting them yourselves. With these few guidelines, you can collect, preserve and mount your own hornet’s nests. That is how to preserve a hornet’s nest; and you may soon become a seller of preserved hornets’ nests if you are passionate about it.

How the hornet’s nest is made

The pear-shaped nests are constructed using chewed wood fiber mixed with saliva. The entrance hole is located near the bottom of the nest and the walls of the nests are two inches thick, protecting the hornets from the weather.

Hornet colonies, which begin every spring, are founded by the lone adult queen that made it through the winter by hiding in logs, tree barks, and other such places. The lone queen starts out by creating papery brood cells and laying eggs. She will feed the maggot-like larvae until they become infertile adult female workers who add new layers of cells to accommodate the queen’s eggs to create more workers.

Once these eggs begin to hatch, the all-female crew starts to assist in gathering food and building the nest. By the end of summer, the nest will have grown to three feet long, creating well-arranged combs of cells that can hold as many as over 700 hornets.

Now, the attention of the queen is shifted towards just laying eggs. Nearing the fall, some of the eggs receive more food, prompting their transformation into queens. The queen now begins to lay male eggs.

Once the male eggs emerge, they mate and the cycle is repeated once again, with the colony gradually dying off, leaving quite an impressive aerial nest behind.