How Do Wasps Construct Their Nests?
Wasps are incredible architects and highly creative insects that construct fascinating nests during spring.
The wasp nests are a collection of well-organized hexagonal shaped cells. Such a structure helps in
saving space to fit maximum number of cells while using very little building material.
There are more than 7000 species of wasps found in the UK. All these wasps species make similar nests
but differ in size, shape, and places where they are built.
The most common wasp in the UK is the yellowjackets. These are the black and yellow striped wasps
you see around. These yellowjackets specie build their nests underground.
Before we get into how wasps make their nests, let’s discuss their lifecycle first.
All wasps die off during winter leaving behind the fertile females who later become queens. The female
wasps hide in undisturbed places like underneath tree barks, or attics. Once spring arrives, they come
out of hibernation and start looking for good sites to build their wasp nests. Usually, several queens
work together to find a place. Once they get a nest site, the dominant queen subjugates the others who
become her first workers, and the building work commences.
How Wasps Make the Nests
Building the wasps nest begins with the queen adding a petiole to an established support. A petiole is a
paste-like pulp made by chewing fresh wood gathered from old fences and mixed with their saliva. The
petiole is where the nest hangs, and it has a hexagonal shaped cell at the end.
The queen keeps on adding more cells around the pulp. She does this by scraping wood bits using her
mandibles, then turns them into soft paper pulp and carries it to her nest. The soft paper pulp is
attached to the petiole to create hexagonal shaped cells. When the pulp dries, it forms a sturdy paper
nest. The queen then lays eggs on each cell. She must then find food for the hatching larvae as she
continues to build more cells.
Once the first brood of wasp hatches, they take over the role of building the nest as the queen continues
to lay eggs. At this point, the queen becomes a full-time egg layer producing approximately 200-300
eggs per day while the workers handle the rest of the work. The queen is also tasked with producing
pheromones that help to unite and control the colony.
Even though the wasp nests are made from paper created from dead wood, they are sturdier than you
can imagine. Typically, a wasp nest can last almost a year and start decomposing during winter as a
result of weather and many other factors.
What Wasps Nests Are Made of in the UK
Wasps nests in the UK are made primarily using deadwood. During spring, the queen starts gathering
the old dead wood scrapings from fence panels, logs, garden furniture and even cardboards.
Once the first set of larvae hatches, they become workers and are mandated with finding and bringing
the scrapping of wood to the nest. The wood remains are then given to the wasp larvae which turns it
into a paste that the workers use to build the nest. Normally, the paste contains some wax properties
that make the nest waterproof.