The Tale of the Stinky Hornet’s Nest

Once upon a time, some ambitious hornets made a home in the elm tree above my patio.
In years prior, the hornets enjoyed makeshift homes in my gutters, a crack in the garage, and above my front door. These were all locations that were less-than-ideal, what with children and pets coming to- and -fro all day long. The hornets, being territorial and slightly aggressive, would pester the children and pets, and made their removal a necessity. This year, they elected a new leader or merged their collective bug brains into some sort of winged-borg, and created a marvel of engineering that managed to stay aloft in the wind-tossed trees from June through October. These hornets were showy, pompous bastards. Not only did they build it about 20 + feet off the ground where we couldn’t get at it effectively – even with a hose – they built the McMansion of nests. Huge. Ridiculous. Suburban.


I’m pleased to note that we had no human v. hornet issues this summer/fall, and lived a peaceful and harmonious coexistence in the Winnipeg sun. We grew fond of them, even.

Winter arrived early, and brought with it excessive and perverse snow before Hallowe’en. One morning I awoke to find the wind decimated remains of the now abandoned insect casbah lying atop a bed of freshly fallen snow. Me, being the freak that I am, saw this as a fantastic opportunity for the kids to learn about the innards of the nest.

Naturally, I picked it up, and brought it in the house.

Me: Look kids! The hornet nest! Check out the inside. Look at the engineering! It looks so similar to how bees make their homes…


BabyDuck: *shriek* Yuck.  The hornets awe dead in there!

Me: I am going to save it for your show and tell!

*****A month passes. The nest sits in a plastic bag on the deck****

Old Man: What are you doing with that thing? GET RID OF IT. Gross.

Me: It’s not gross. It’s so cool! The kids are going to take it for show and tell!

Old Man: When? It has been sitting there forever. Get RID of it.

***Two more weeks pass***

Me: BabyDuck! Today is your day for show and tell! Do you want to take the hornet’s nest?

BabyDuck: No. I want to bwing my piggy bank and show my money!

Me: No. You are not bringing money to school. HORNET NEST. I will put it in this Rubbermaid bin for you. SO COOL.

Duck: *sigh* Oh…alwight.

{Lug the kids, the dog, the backpacks, the sled, the Rubbermaid bin to the school on foot in the snow}

Teacher: Bonjour, BabyDuck! Comment ça vas? Qu’est-ce qui est dans la boîte? Puis-je voir?

BabyDuck:  Beaucoup des insectes morts!

Teacher: *confused look* *peeks in bin* Oh…ah…tres amusement…er…

Me: Hornet nest. I thought it would be better than her bringing in a stuffed animal or something of little educational value.

Teacher: Ah. C’est…bon? Er. Ha. Mmm. BabyDuck, le temps pour aller à la classe!

*****7 hours later******

{Hornet nest is outside, in the bin, in the school yard}

Me: Defuq?

{open box}

Me: *GAG* Oh sweet mother of CRAP. What a STENCH!

Teacher: It was one of the most engaging show and tells we’ve had all year, but the STINK!

BabyDucks: Puant!


Teacher: Yeah. It HAD to go outside. The whole class reeked.

Me: I’ve had it sitting in a plastic bag for nearly two months. It must have started decomposing…

Teacher: Well…that explains it.

The moral of the story: If you are going to save hornet nests for your kids to take to school, have them take it SOONER than later, and don’t store it in a plastic bag.


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