Hand with Wasp Nests
archival inkjet print
45.5 x 38.5 cm (18″ x 15.25″)
Here is a close up look at one of the nests – just amazing and beautiful, isn’t it?
January 16, 2013 in Hands, Printworks by Marja-Leena
Every Summer I watch the wasps exfoliate our terrace table and chairs. I never mind the fact because no-one here has ever been stung by them… if you don’t flap at them they go about their business calmly and quietly… and moreover their work transformed the rather unpleasant red-brown ‘varnished’ finish of the wood to a beautiful, well-weathered silver. (Not preserving the wood each season will have its downside in time, and one of the chairs last season collapsed under Peter!)
Sometimes people come to Ty Isaf and get quite distressed by the proximity of wasps harvesting the table while we’re eating at it, but I always try to distract them from their fears. And others have come here and seeing a wasp’s nests growing in the eaves of the stable, tell me I must knock it down to dissuade the habit. (every year they come.) But they’ve never caused any trouble, and I don’t intend starting to go to war with them now. We co-exist quite happily, and I’m comfortable to share this beautiful place with them.
Lovely. I’ve always been fascinated by paper wasps – these creatures who make such a substance, miraculously.
Clive, that is an amazing story. I have not heard of wasps exfoliating tables and chairs. I wonder if they are peculiar variety that seems to love that ‘varnish’.
We get some that come around in the summer when we are having a barbeque – they love to steal bits of meat or salmon and do cause anxiety around the table. And we used to get the kind that made huge round nests that hung in trees or tall shrubs, and if accidentally disturbed would sting badly, a worry with small children around. One year they even bore a hole in the house siding and got between the walls – those had to be exterminated unfortunately (we used a vacuum rather than poison). Maybe they were hornets, I’m not sure, after reading Lucy’s comment below.
Beth, yes they really are remarkable paper makers.
When we had the hornets in our gable wall, the young man who finally came to get rid of them talked quite tenderly about the beauty of the structures they made, and how they were really quite likeable, interesting creatures, much less aggressive than wasps. We had had enough of being besieged by them beating on the French doors every night, mind. I remember sitting out in the garden and hearing an odd scritching noise, and it was a hornet excavating a piece of old wood, quite a way off.
Clive must have a special rapport, I like the idea of living in harmony but have been stung by late season wasps and don’t much care for their company I’m afraid!
Marja-Leena & al,
yes, there are many different species of wasps.
We used to have really big nests upstairs of the summer cabin, volley ball size, they were big beasts that managed to plunge in from the holes on the window sills, lay low on the rug and pretend to be dead and they suddenly lift their hind end and sting on a bare foot.
Once I had a foot size of a volley ball.
No, we still didn’t kill the nests. They have their own ecological niche.
But our wasp nests were a bit color of red as our cabin and sauna are painted earth red, which is the typical color in the Finnish country side. So: they do use wood fiber.
One thing is a little puzzling about the wasp nest photo. Usually the wasp nest hibernates so, that there is a Mother Wasp there, sleeping, and then in Spring starts laying eggs.
You did not see a big wasp inside there at all?
Marjatta, I’ve never seen any kind of red wasp nests, so indeed that must be from the red paint so common in Finland.
All these wasp nests I’ve picked up around our home and garden have been small like this, often broken and always on the ground, discarded and empty. I guess I’ve been lucky not to meet a wasp inside.
So many of these self-portraits (hand only!) seems to say things about mortality and openness to life and death. Like them. That eroded, hairy cone seems even stranger when six are together…
Fingertips with objects for you:
Marly, it really is interesting to see the pieces together, how they create a larger statement. I like what you say, thanks!
Thanks for the link! I must have gone through almost half of them, so incredibly tiny they are. I loved the snowflakes most. The dates were weird, some were year 2022?
© Marja-Leena Rathje 2004-2015