Home LIFE The Extraordinary Life Cycle of a Hornet Colony

The Extraordinary Life Cycle of a Hornet Colony

Hornets are the largest of the eusocial wasps, and are similar in appearance to their close relatives yellow jackets.Like other social wasps, hornets build communal nests by chewing wood to make a papery pulp.

Each nest has one queen, who lays eggs and is attended by workers who, while genetically female, cannot lay fertile eggs.After a hornet queen lays hundreds of eggs, her workers set about feeding the larvae chewed-up prey.

With tiny waists, the workers can’t digest solid food; they instead subsist on drops of amino acid from the larvae.Most species make exposed nests in trees and shrubs, but some build their nests underground or in other cavities.


In the tropics, these nests may last year-round, but in temperate areas, the nest dies over the winter, with lone queens hibernating in leaf litter or other insulative material until the spring.