I really did - on this inspection I ran into a real hornet's nest.
And it was gorgeous! It's bigger than a basketball!
What kind of bee is this?
It is the Bald-faced Hornet.
And they are nasty.
Hornets don't like vibration, so if you drive by the hive with the riding mower, or happen by with the weed whacker, it will disturb the hive.
This hive consists of a queen and 200-400 infertile, winged females, brood keepers, male drones and many reproductive females.
The inside of the hive is made up of three or four tiers of what looks like a regular honey-combed bee's nest, surrounded by this paper shell.
The paper is made from chewed wood pulp mixed with bee saliva. It is a very strong structure.
These bees eat caterpillars and aphids, and collect pollen and nectar like other bees to add carbohydrates to their diet. The bald-faced hornet thrives throughout North America.
These nests are built every year! This is left over from last year and is not occupied. You can see the hole where birds went in to harvest what was left by the colony when they abandoned it last fall.
You will see them every spring. They have white faces, and black bodies with white abdomens. THEY ARE VERY AGGRESSIVE! THEY STING MORE THAN ONCE! They will attack if something comes within a few feet of the nest.
My recommendation: if you see one of these in the winter you might as well remove them. They are not occupied. And next summer bees will not move back in. But having located your house once, they will come back year after year unless the hive is eliminated and you prevent a new one from being built.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia