Monday, 2 May 2011

Stirring Up A Hornet's Nest?

When I spotted this winged creature recently in our balcony, it evoked mixed reactions at home. My own reaction was one of apprehension; my little son could get stung and so it ought to be removed. On the other hand, my husband seemed overjoyed. Having tasted fresh veggies from our roof garden, he was now hoping for some fresh honey from the balcony.
Kathandu Forming its Nest
Construction in Progress
The Finished Nest
With honey as the enticement, both of us agreed that we must let the nest grow. The finished nest, however, didn’t resemble anything like the honeycomb we usually see. We also weren’t sure when and how badly we may get stung. We asked around and then turned to the Internet. But on this occasion, Google failed me; it’s million results were absolutely   baffling. I did learn many facts, like there are 100,000 wasp species and 20,000 bee species. But in the end, I still couldn’t determine who our visitor to the balcony was. So when we found the contact details of Mr. N. Swaminathan, a Chennai-based apiologist (one who studies bees), in The Hindu, I dashed off a mail to him. In The Hindu story featuring Mr. Swaminathan, he had claimed that bees can become very friendly and may even be domesticated like pets. So we were hopeful that he won’t tell us to bring down the nest. Yet when he replied, we were taken by surprise. The creature according to him was not a bee; it was a “Kathandu” in Tamil. He told me that its sting could be very “dangerous” and that I’d be wise to remove the nest. Now when an apiologist – one who can domesticate bees tells you that the kathandu is something not to be messed with, you’d imagine that we would take his advice seriously.

But the nest still remains in our balcony. We no longer dream of fresh honey, but we are yet to gather our wits and figure out how to be rid of the hive. So far its been: live and let live. One day, we shall act. You'll hear about the Eliminate Wasp Mission in another post.


  1. I read on the internet that the Blue Metal Fanalca chaps who come every morning to clean the roads etc.are good at wasp nest removal.

    Or you could try Pest Control.

    Best of luck!

  2. Thank you for the suggestions. I'll look into them.

  3. vasanti said

    what happened to the "kathandu" nest?

  4. The nest is still there. I'm wondering if it's been abandoned, as there has been no activity at all for a while. If it has indeed been abandoned, the nest can remain; it's a nice showpiece.

  5. Here's an update: The abandoned nest was safely removed. But a new one has sprung up in a neighbour's house. And this one is growing steadily and causing much concern. The eliminate wasp mission may need to be revived, albeit in a new location.

  6. Kindly let me know the scientific name of kathandu or the email address of Mr. N. Swamynathan to get th same please

    1. Not sure, but the Kathandu may be the Greater Banded Hornet or the Vespa Tropica.
      As for N Swaminathan's contact details, they are in the link: