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Wasps’ nest over the water

Wasps' Nest hanging from a maple over the water. Image ©

Yesterday evening I took the kayak out round the lake on which our house sits. It’s a little over two miles all round and, after just over half a mile, I noticed something hanging from a waterside maple. I paddled closer. It was this wasps’ nest.

It was more than a foot/30cm+ from top to bottom, it was hanging from a rather slender branch (as you can just see) about 12ft/4m out from the shore and its weight had brought it down perilously close to the water… It was hanging just a few inches above the surface. I suppose when the wasps started building it was 2-3ft/60-90cm above the water – not any more. As it grew larger and heavier it hung lower and lower.

There was a noticeable hole towards the bottom of the nest, on the side facing the shore, and there were large, dark wasps going in and out. I’d have liked to take a closer look but, to be honest, I didn’t want to get too near. And the wind kept blowing me towards it.. But I wanted to take a picture…

My knowledge of the behavior of wasps is largely derived from TV cartoons so I knew that if I got too close they’d all come streaming out of the nest and chase me across the lake as I paddled frantically to get away until I jumped in the water – at which point they’d all laugh and head back home. So I soon paddled away.

Still, it was a great thing to see – even if it may only take one thunderstorm to raise the water level and ruin their nest. And thunderstorms are forecast today.

UPDATE: Two weeks later I paddled over and took another look - someone's smashed up the nest. What's the point of that?


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Mark Wessel

A wasp indeed sometimes referred too as the Bald-faced hornet. Very aggressive when nest is disturbed.

Graham Rice

Thanks for the ID, Mark. They do seem a little scary. Wikipedia ( reports that the insects about an inch long and that: "The population of a nest varies from 100 to 700 individuals, averaging around 400. The bald-faced hornet is protective of the nest and will sting repeatedly if it is disturbed. This wasp is more aggressive than most yellowjackets... and the nest should be observed only from a distance."

"observed only from a distance"... I'll definitely keep that in mind.


Makes a person wonder what happened to the jerk who smashed it up?

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