When Do Wasps Build Nests?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:55 pm

Wasps in the house and garden are not really welcome, even though these pests are useful for our ecosystem. Building a wasp nest shows true skill, even though it is only used for one year.

To the point

  • Nest used for only one year
  • time of nest building from April
  • Hibernated queen starts building
  • Duration of nest building until July/August
  • wasp nest is abandoned in winter

Dependent on the life cycle

When Do Wasps Build Nests?


Nest building in wasps is always dependent on their life cycle. A wasp colony is founded anew every year. Here is a short explanation. Except for the mated young queens, the entire wasp colony does not survive the winter. Only these queens of a wasp colony survive the winter in a form of cold torpor with the help of a kind of antifreeze in their body. They hide underground in mouse holes or rotten wood piles, even under tree bark. With the first rays of sunshine, at temperatures around 15 degrees, usually in early or late April, the queen comes back to life. The time can vary somewhat. It always depends on the prevailing climate. First she goes in search of food and then she looks for a protected cavity to build her new wasp nest. At first it resembles a miniature cone, then a tennis ball, until it reaches its final shape:

Wespen bauen an einem Wespennest
  • rarely nest near the hibernation site
  • ideally dark cavities
  • also freely hanging in hedges, trees, roof trusses
  • for this purpose scraping wood fibers from boards, trees and fences
  • mixes them with saliva
  • then forming of maximum 20 hexagonal honeycombs
  • first egg laying in these so-called brood combs
  • from it exclusive development of infertile workers
  • workers responsible for further nest building
  • further rearing of the following offspring
  • Queen now exclusively responsible for egg laying


Note: Scientific studies have shown that wasps orient themselves to the magnetic field of the earth when choosing a location.

Constant growth


For the duration of about four months, from spring to midsummer, i.e. July to August, the wasp nest is constantly growing, until finally in early autumn the construction is stopped. By this time, the wasp nest has reached an amazing size. Over the summer it can house between 500 and 5000 workers and the queen. There are between 3500 and 15000 brood cells in a wasp nest. The size of the colony always depends on the population. In addition, the weather and also the food supply play a decisive role. In bad weather and little food, the wasp nest grows correspondingly slower, since fewer animals are present and consequently less space is necessary. In addition, the available space for nest building and the available worker bees are also important. A nest does not always have to have a grape-shaped appearance, but can be

  • Have size like soccer or medicine ball,
  • be ellipse or plate shaped or
  • be 2 to 3 cm high and up to 3 m long.
  • Note: A queen wasp can be identified by its body size. The body is stout and 20 mm long. Worker wasps, by comparison, reach only 16 mm in length.

Nest abandonment in autumn


In autumn, wasps lay their last eggs. From these eggs hatch the larvae of the young queens, i.e. the fertile females. After that, eggs are laid again by the still ruling queen. From these eggs only drones emerge, whose task is to mate with young queens of other wasp states. After mating, they die, as do all the workers belonging to the wasp colony. Some specimens may still be seen in October or November, but then they also die. The workers reach an age between 18 and 22 days, while the old queen dies after one year. Only the mated young queens survive the winter.
Depending on the wasp species, the nests die from the beginning of September to the end of October. They are empty and are not occupied again by any wasp species. As a rule, they decompose by themselves over time.

Wespennest von innen

Frequently asked questions


When can wasp nests be removed easily and safely?


In general, nests may only be removed if they pose a danger to humans. However, removal can be done without concern in the fall. The nests are then abandoned. Removal is easy, but does not have to be done, as they usually decompose themselves over winter.

Who should be informed when a wasp nest is discovered?


In such a case, a professional pest controller or directly the wasp emergency service should be consulted. They will decide on the further course of action. Sometimes it is possible to relocate the colony. The fire department will only take action in urgent cases.

How can a wasp nest that has just begun to be built be removed?


The queen must have left the nest. Then the small “nest ball” can simply be detached and the place rubbed with lemon oil. It is also possible to relocate the ball together with the queen. The new location should be at least 5 km from the old one.

Author

  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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