Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Science Lives On

We use every opportunity we get to discover the science around us. This summer was no different, especially when we discovered this:

If you look closely, possibly click on the picture to enlarge it you will see a hornet nest hanging from the rafter about center screen. Now to give you an idea how large this hornet nest was, we could observe it from the safety of our kitchen window. We watched as the hornets went in and out working all day long, at times we got a little closer then we should have to observe the action. Fun! Well, yes, but we also knew we still needed to keep our distance, and approached very quietly.

At night this nest was sprayed, a total of three times, then left alone to make sure all the hornets were dead and gone. Finally today Selena asked when it would be taken down. Of course since we had seen no hornet action we obliged her request, with a rake we began the process of removing this nest.

Selena was a little nervous over this procedure, especially when she spied the first few hornets to fall from the nest. Upon a closer look though she soon discovered that they were all dead. She thought it was interesting how the nest itself looked like wrapped up newspaper, yet very hollow inside. I know she had asked all summer when she could see the honey, so I think she truly expected to find some sort of honey like substance inside.

Now for the real fun part, seeing the eggs that had been laid. Selena couldn't believe her eyes. I must admit it was pretty interesting for me as well, I have seen many hornet nests removed, but never had such a close up view, or the opportunity to truly examine inside.

Since I really didn't want to bring this into my house, we took a small piece to feel, and examine while we researched hornets and hornet nests.

 Selena learned that her observations were pretty close to being spot on. She first observed that the nest looked like rolled up newspaper. She said it had the the texture of paper, but rough. As we researched she discovered that the Queen wasp makes the nest out of tree bark. Wait a minute the light bulb went off, as Selena announced, "Wait paper is made from wood!" Yes, that is right the  hornet actually uses the bark from trees and makes probably the most natural form of paper that can be made to make their nest out of. She also learned that most colony of hornets consist of one Queen and as many as 700 workers. As for the eggs, the fertilized eggs will be females, or more Queens, and the unfertilized eggs will be male, meaning more workers.

Now Selena can say she has pretty much watched the entire cycle of a hornet, nest making and actually got to dissect and  investigate the nest at the end. We do love science!
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