For those of you that are not up on your latin or familiar with all the insect species out there, the vespa crabro germana is also known as the European hornet, or in central Virginia, also known as the Bell hornet. Either way, they are scary looking creatures.
Now I'm not one to go looking for a fight, particularly against a creature that has the capability to fight back, but there are several reasons that these buggers have got to go!
First off, they are big. No, they are huge! These are the 747 of the wasp/bee/hornet world. These monsters will get your attention when they go buzzing by you or fly up to you to see if you have something that interests them. You can hear the noise from their wings buzzing as they come torpedoing down on you.
Secondly, they are a predator to the honey bees. They can wreak havoc on a hive. Luckily, most of my hives are pretty strong right now and should be able to defend themselves from the hornets. More than once I have been working my hives and one or two of those hornets have come buzzing in to see if there was any opportunity for the taking. I tend to start flailing my arms around in the air in an attempt to "shoo" them away. Of course, the shooing action doesn't happen if my hands are holding a hive frame full of bees, because then there are a lot of unhappy honey bees right in my face!
Thirdly, they are building a nest in the soffit of my house. This isn't a major problem, except that they are attracted to light. At night, if we have the porch light on, we can't even open the door to let the dog in or out. They hang around the windows at night and cause chaos when going in or out of the house. This attribute also gives us a potential method of extermination.
A simple 5-gallon bucket 3/4-full of water with a bit of dish soap to break the water tension and a light suspended above the bucket pointing into the water. The hornets fly to the light, bounce down and hit the water and get stuck and die. Surprisingly, my light lasted all night and was still on in the morning. And there was a good amount of hornets floating in the bucket.
This seemed to be a good solution, but from looking at the soffit where the hive is located, and all the hornets still coming and going, the process would have to be repeated for weeks to make any dent in the hive population, which probably has an active queen keeping the population strong.
I'm going to have to call in reinforcements to get this job done. Tomorrow an exterminator will be called to "remove" the hive and hopefully kill all these hornets. It will give peace to not only my family around our own house, but also to my honey bees. If I'm lucky, the exterminator will come while I am home and can get some pictures. If you are about to call me a wimp, and wonder why I won't go spray them myself, did I mention that the soffit is about 30 feet up in the air? Stay posted to see how this turns out. You won't find me climbing a ladder to fight with these beasts!