Whether you’re a wildlife fan or a professional animal expert, a preserved hornet nest provides a learning tool, a conversation starter and a unique decoration. As colony insects, each nest houses one queen and hundreds of male worker hornets that build the nest into its well-known conical shape. Because hornets eat insects, they can be vital to the surrounding ecosystem. If the nest is not causing any problems, leave it alone until the hornets die for the year, then you can harvest the empty nest with less risk.
Cut the branch with the hornet’s nest soon after the second hard frost when most, if not all, of the hornets have died or left the nest.
Place the nest in an outdoor area protected from the weather for at least two weeks, so you don’t smell the dead hornets decomposing and any remaining hornets will leave or die. Barns, garages, car ports and covered porches work well.
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Mount the nest in a dry location where it will not be bumped or disturbed, and it will last for years. The nest does not need to be sealed or treated.
Enjoy your nest without touching it. Hornet nests decompose quickly when handled.
If you don’t want to wait until winter, choose a cool night to enclose the nest in a plastic bag and spray it with two cans of wasp spray. Seal the bag and let it sit for 24 hours before cutting it down.
Hornets sting when startled or threatened, so stay alert and wear thick clothing.
Even after the frost, a few hornets may be alive in the nest.