Hornets are one of the largest species of wasps; they have a bad reputation due to their aggressive temperament, but like all bees they only react this way when threatened. There are a few specific characteristics that make hornets unique, including their nesting and feeding habits. The famous honeycomb structure can be attributed to these bees; their hives are made from gray paper (a material hornets produce on their own via chewing wood particles). Their hive tends to resemble a tear drop shape with the lower end containing the entrance. It is interesting to note that hornets do not build their nests indoors, which is one thing we humans can be thankful for. They prefer to make their homes in trees and shrubs, but they have known to build nests underneath roof tops and decks.
The thing to remember when it comes to hornets is that these bees can and will sting repeatedly if threatened. Since they do not have a barbed stinger like honeybees for instance, they do not die after they have stung their victim. In addition, hornets are considered to be one of the most venomous types of bees as well, since they inject a dose of acetylcholine. Thus, a hornet sting is usually the most painful to humans. These creatures are not inherently evil, however, as like all animals they only react when provoked. Here are some quick facts about hornets.
- A hornet nest is built solely for breeding and feeding purposes.
- Worker (male) bees are assigned the duty of gathering food for the nest and aiding the queen in the raising of the larvae.
- A hornet’s venom will differ in toxicity from bee to bee; these animals are known to attack other insects and even other hornets if they feel the nest is being threatened.
- Hornets release pheromones when in attack mode that work to mobilize the nest; they can essentially mark their prey for a group assault.
- Hornets live primarily in the Northern Hemisphere (the United States, Europe, Asia).