How Do Hornets Make Their Nests?

The hornet queen starts the hive’s nest. She uses her mandibles to scrap away pieces of wood fiber from any available source. The scrapings are then broken down by a mixture of saliva and water inside the queen’s mouth. After a site is chosen for the nest, the queen uses the pulp formed inside of her mouth to create a base on a sheltered support structure to suspend the nest.

At first, the nest is constructed of up to 50 hexagonal cells that are used to hold future offspring. These cells are built using chewed wood fibers or tree bark that is turned into pulp. The queen protects the cells by creating a strong paper covering to envelop the nest. After the cells are built, the queen lays an egg into each one, then waits until the eggs hatch. The newly emerged hornets take over the nest’s construction completely and begin to add to the existing cells while the queen lays more eggs. Each generation adds more cells to the structure as the colony expands. A protective covering is added to all new cells until the entire structure is encased in a protective envelope. One entry hole is left open so workers can enter and leave the nest.