Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Bee Nests

Can you see the hornet’s nest? It’s almost as big as a basketball. It’s in a brush pile near our house. There was a nest in the same brush pile last summer-guess how I found it? I threw a watermelon rind directly in the center of it. Before I could even turn to walk back to the house-I was pulling hornets off my nose and lips-not fun. We’ve never had much of a problem with bees-until last summer.

This summer we’ve discovered 4 hornet’s nests as big as the one in the photo around our yard. We’ve had so many waspers-that every time you walk down the porch steps one falls on you. And The Deer Hunter discovered a band of irate yellow jackets have taken up residence inside one of our block foundation walls.

The Deer Hunter sprays the bees-but they seem to come right back or simply move to the next available step, porch, or tree. He’s also tried the sugar water trap method-which did nothing-and the old time way of pouring gas on the nest. The gas works-if you can conveniently get close to the nest-but if not you’re just dousing gas everywhere. By far his favorite method of taking care of the huge hornets nests-is shooting them with a shotgun from the safety of an open window inside the house. Crazy-but effective.

One other strange occurance concerning the bees-they are overly attracted to The Deer Hunter. I’ve never seen anything like it-doesn’t matter which variety of bee-they all seem to bomb dive his head as soon as he walks out the door. He’s been stung more times than I can count this summer-me only once. Maybe they’ve all joined ranks to stop the man with the gun.

The other day I was telling Pap we had found yet another hornet’s nest. Pap said “Well you know what finding that many nests in one summer means don’t you? It means its going to be a bad winter.”

Got bees?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    August 19, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I feel sorry for the Deer Hunter! Once is enough, but many times???? OUCH! I think I would get me a bee keepers suit.
    I didn’t know that about the bee nests. I’ll keep that in mind. This year I haven’t had too much of a problem with bees.

  • Reply
    August 18, 2011 at 11:10 am

    My honeybees are doing well this year but we do have more waspers and hornets and the like than we do most years…I hope it is not a bad winter!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Tipper…that’s really interesting! I’d never heard that! Thanks for the heads up!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Sharon-heavy mast is the amount of nuts, acorns, etc. that nature produces each summer.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    August 14, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    (3) A season of heavy mast,
    Cold is sure to last.
    I dont understand this one, what is “heavy mast”.
    I must say that we have had a lot of wasp/bees this year also here in East Texas. I didnt realize it was an indicator for a bad winter but I believe most of the old ways

  • Reply
    John Stonecypher
    August 14, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    For all you foks that get stung try meat tenderizer.It really works.
    In 1944 I got with chiggers my grandmother cover me with salt mixed with butter.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    August 14, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Oh, just gross! I hate hornets; got stung terribly as a child by one that just wouldn’t let go! Had never heard of the connection with weather signs, that is so fascinating! I wouldn’t doubt that it’s going to be a cold winter, I feel it already. Be blessed this week!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Wasps started to build a nest in the eaves last year. Thank goodness one of my friends was able to spray the nest and he sealed the nest opening the next day. I’m scared of heights and the wasps worried me. Not many wasps or yellow jackets here this year, but did see a nasty hornet with long brown wings in the freshly watered garden this a.m. It looked just plain evil.

  • Reply
    trisha too
    August 14, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    We do, but no where near what you’ve got going on! They pretty much ignore us, and we ignore them.
    EXCEPT for the ones that keep trying to build inside my grill!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    As a boy getting stung by a wasper
    was worth the pain, cause we’d
    gaudge the nests down, get the larvie out, heat ’em up in a pie
    pan so they wouldn’t bust when you
    baited your hook. Then when we got
    to the river and opened that ole
    baccer can, you’d have to get behind a tree to bait your hook.

  • Reply
    Rose C.
    August 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Your dad is correct the more nests the harder the winter! We have ground wasp everywhere!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Tipper–Pinnacle Creek asked about crowder peas and yellow jackets (they also attract wasps). I can answer her question. They are eating the aphids which frequent them, so I guess there’s another useful trait along with serving as fine fish bait.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    August 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Will-I don’t think anyone was talking about honey bees. In the south-we refer to waspers, hornets, and yellow jackets all as bees-even though that may not be the correct term.
    We love the honey bees for their amazing pollination capabilities-unfortunately for my part of Appalachia-they are mostly gone from the area-unless you’re lucky enough to live near a bee keeper.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    August 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Was trimming some shrubs a coupe of weeks ago. Cut off a branch and when it fell saw two wasps nests the size of saucers. I’m 67, slightly over weight, have a bad back, and parkinsons. I tell you, I broke the world record for crossing the street. Waspspray solved the problem.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 14, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Tipper–If only I had a $100 bill for every time I’ve been stung by hornets, honeybees, wasps, bumblebees, and most of all, those minions of Satan known as yellow jackets, I’d be a rich man.
    In my all too extensive experience, I think yellow jackets are the meanest and most aggressive, but perhaps that’s because they are primarily ground nesters who like trails, open areas, yards, and the kind of places humans frequent. On the other hand, they are the easiest to get rid of–a few ounces of gas poured down the hole at night is all that is required. Someone mentioned doing that and then lighting the gas. Bad idea. Ask brother Don about singed leg hairs thanks to such an effort. Besides, lighting the gas isn’t necessary; the fumes kill the yellow jackets.
    Much as I hate the yellow jackets (and Miss Cindy, they are bad to get in my blueberries late in the picking season, which is right now), my two worst ever experiences with stinging insects were with hornets (fishing–they love to build over trout streams) and bumblebees (was tering down a smokehouse and got into a nest).
    Still, there is one positive. As Ken and doubtless others know, the larva of all these stinging fiends make wonderful fish bait.
    Finally, on weather signs. Here are a few I’ve heard about hard winters.
    (1) Hornets’ nests large or high, bitter cold by and by.
    (2) Corn shucks thick and tight, many a cold winter’s night.
    (3) A season of heavy mast,
    Cold is sure to last.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Wayne Newton
    August 14, 2011 at 10:30 am

    We had few hornet’s nests down in Wiregrass Country, but Bumble Bees, Wasps, Yellow Jackets, Honey Bees and Dirt Daubers were there in great numbers.
    The Black Wasps liked the underside of mature tobacco leaves, but most of all they liked the junction of barn walls with the roofline;
    Red Wasps seemed to prefer blackberry briers, and plum orchards;
    Honey Bees were mostly in the hives we placed at several locations near the row crop fields;
    Yellow Jackets and Bumble Bees were found mostly in tufts of grass, at ground level, near the border of cultivated plots.
    We learned at an early age how to beware of each of them, but were still stung many times, for we had to do our farm work where they hung out.
    We also learned early on how to draw out the poison; fresh Chewing Tobacco; Grandpa said that Beechnut worked best.
    I wrote a story about a Wasp nest in the tobacco field. It can be found in my blog, “A Bunch Of Wiregrass”.Title is “Put’n in tobacco”.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2011 at 10:24 am

    As I read these comments this morning I am taken aback by
    the placement of Bee’s in the same catagory as Wasps, Hornets, Yellow Jackets etc. The noble Honey Bee’s are a vital element in the production of all fruit, berry and vegetable crops. Without their tireless effort’s to gather pollen (no they do not eat meat or bite) none of us would enjoy the bounty of our food harvests. Please do not destroy!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    August 14, 2011 at 9:29 am

    When in the Mennonite community this summer, I saw a basketball size hornets nest hanging on a low branch near their apple shed….I watched for a few minutes and mentioned it to the owner..He had already sprayed the nest and was going to remove it, but customers were enjoying looking at it in the natural setting hanging and swinging in the breeze from the tree…I mentioned that a low hornets nest mean’t a mild winter…he immediately jumped on that statement saying they had low ground nests last year and it was still a bad winter…ha He assured me he doesn’t belive in that folklore and finds very high nests and low nests every year…ha
    We have a lot of Yellow Jackets every year…Roy marks the nest when mowing…and in cover of darkness armed with a flashlight and gas pours it on and lights it…If they stay in our woods OK …If they move to the yard they have to go…
    We had one small hornets nest building in the Wisteria by our porch but caught it early in the Spring. It was about the size of a softball..
    I’m sure we have more around here somewhere…The Red Waspers haven’t been a problem this year..
    Deerhunter will have to dust or spray the yellow jackets in your block walls…good luck…It took us several sprayings to get rid of a yellow jacket nest in the siding of our house one year..and actually cut off our outside phone line…The one wasp that we haven’t seen much of this year is the European Hornet..I’m glad cause those “boogers” are big and will fly into the windows at night if they have a nest close by…they fly directly at a light source…scary…
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    August 14, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I don’t know why I love summer so much with all the pests that come along with the sunshine. I have seen more Wasps and Bumblebees this summer. There are just more pests lately. What is it with the Yellowjackets and Black eye peas, as they are so covered I have to wait until near dark to pick the peas? I got my first sting this summer when one was hiding on the underside of a pea.
    I always purchase non scented hair spray etc. also, as wasps and bees love those scented items.
    I zone in on the ground Yellowjackets late evening, and hurredly mark with the end of a broom, then go back with my kerosene that night.
    I really love the old time predictions by the way nature behaves just like when those flies start hanging on and bitin’ it is going to rain. Keep up the good work as I find all info to be very helpful!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Predictions of bad winter scare me. Is Mother Nature giving us any other signs? Your Pap is a smart man.

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    August 14, 2011 at 8:52 am

    I have heard that certain body chemistries attract more bees than others. I know my sister and I can be together and I will be fine and she will have bites all over her. We have a lot of wasp nests but I have never found a hornet’s nest near here. They must love your property!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Oh my, that’s awful… good thing none of ya are alergic. Your Pap may be right, don’t know anything about forecasting weather by the amount of bees but we’ve read about the winters getting worse.
    We’ve had an awful lot of deer flies here this summer. They also like to attack my hubby’s head, even if he has a hat on. He got bit by one and it drew blood. My dog got bit by them too and they left welts on his head. Hubby says they hurt like heck when they bite.

  • Reply
    Richard Moore
    August 14, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I live in the Virginia mountains and it seems we’ve had more wasps this year. Not sure why. Yellow Jackets are the most aggressive and their nests more difficult to spot.
    The best method I’ve found is the foaming wasp sprays rather than the ones that send out a long but thin stream. The foam quickly covers the whole nest and all the wasps clustered there.
    The foam wouldn’t work as well on a hornet’s nest as most of them are hidden inside. Not sure what would happen if you foamed the entrance hole…but am also sure I would be running so fast away, I wouldn’t observe what happened.
    As a kid I remember my father also used to tie a gas-soaked rag on the end of a pole and burn out nests under the eaves of the barn or shed roofs.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    August 14, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Back in the ’60s there was a lady in Crab Orchard, TN, up on the Cumberland Plateau and I think her name was Mrs. Lane. She was a weather predictor and had enough accuracy that the Knoxville newspapers always ran a story on her predictions for the coming winter. She revealed some of her observations that she used. I don’t remember her talking about the number of hornets nests, but I do remember that she said that if the hornet nests were built close to the ground, the winter would be mild, but if they were built up high, watch out!!
    Your nest looks close to the ground, but if you had one in the same location last year, maybe Mrs. Lane’s observations don’t work on the east side of the Smokies!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 14, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Tipper, it can only be because the Deer Hunter is so sweet!LOL
    My friend, Saleh, has had a terrible problem with the bees eating his blueberries this year. He has tried putting fruit peals and other sweet stuff out to distract them but it is a no go. Those bees want the blueberries. They are devouring them faster than he can pick them and they don’t like him picking them.
    I thought I had heard that our bees were all dying. Well, it looks like that is not so here in WNC!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2011 at 6:11 am

    tell Deer Hunter i am the same as he is. they love me. even mosquitoes love me. this is how daddy got rid of hornets nest and other nest.
    take a very long fishing pole, tie a rag on the end, soak in kerosene, not gas it will explode, and light the rag making a long torch. just touch the torch to the hornet nest and voila they are all burned up. the gun is just scattering them and they go build a new nest. daddy burned wasp nest and hornet nest this way. be careful though, he almost burned the house a couple of times.

  • Leave a Reply