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Thread: Fall Hiking Hazard - Bald Faced Hornets Nests

  1. #1
    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
    Waltham, MA Jazzbo & Marty meet Bigfoot on Kennebago Divide

    Fall Hiking Hazard - Bald Faced Hornets Nests

    I rode my bike into Cambridge Fresh Pond for some exercise this afternoon and came across a common Fall Hiking Hazard - Bald Faced Hornets Nest complete with a very interesting explanatory warning sign posted by City of Cambridge. According to the sign below, this very large nest is high enough in the tree that there hasn't been any reported stings of any of the multitudes of pedestrians that pass by this tree. I recall many close encounters with wasps nests this time of the year.

    This nest looks to be close to 24" tall with many wasps passing in and out of the main entrance. See next shot for an idea of the scale. The nest is steps away from the City of Cambridge water treatment plant at Fresh Pond.

    And the explanatory sign

    On #67 of NE67
    On #100 of NEHH
    On #46 of WNH48

    An atom walked up to me and said "I think I've lost an electron"
    I said "Are you sure?"
    It reply "I'm positive."

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  3. #3
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    It gets real interesting for hikers when they nest in the ground.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  4. #4
    Senior Member John in NH's Avatar
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    Apr 2011
    Central NH
    It's the yellow jackets that nest in the ground. Often the nests are just a quarter size opening. Often they nest in abandon chipmunk holes on trail. Those are the worst, and hikers that pass over them can get multiple stings, a disaster for those who are allergic, or those that didn't know they were allergic, in the backcountry. Yellow jacket nests hatch in August in NH (earlier in the south and some cases) and remain active through Sep/Oct until a very hard freeze, or a skunk or bear digs it out to eat. It's the most serious but unthought of hazard hiking in New England (or elsewhere). Vibrations set then off so treading lightly and not using poles can help. Also, you might be more lucky hiking solo. Usually its the second or third in hiking groups that gets stung after the first hiker disturbs them. Checking trail reports and posting about these hazards can be helpful.
    Last edited by John in NH; 09-26-2021 at 04:41 PM. Photography/Hiking Blog

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Colchester, CT
    Tis the season, got stung nine times in late summer last year while we worked on the trail that my son did as an Eagle project, one ground nest at each end. Five times the first time and four the second. The first time I thought I had backed into some thorns until the third one by my ankle and I wasn't moving. They are bad at Transfer stations or anywhere with trash.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mac's Avatar
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    Dec 2003
    Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - Avatar: Lion Head trail
    Quote Originally Posted by John in NH View Post
    or a skunk or bear digs it out to eat.
    Was hiking on Thursday (Cape Breton Highlands) and discovered a yellow jacket nest that had been dug out by a bear. They were not pleased, only got stung once

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Sign encountered while hiking off-trail near the tourist town of Shuhe in southwest China's Yunnan Province. I left the area to avoid the possibility of getting stung. Later, when I examined the photo and wording closely, I realized it was a horned bee & wasp breeding area. The sign appears to say in the event of theft, count the queen bees and report to the police.
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    散步 Sanbu

  8. #8
    Moderator Peakbagr's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    Near the Adirondack Blue Line
    Climbed a deer hunting tree stand on a bushwhack one time, looking for a view above the ground vegetation. The hunter's seat had a wraparound cover. When I got to the top, the hornets came flying out down thru the open grate floor. After a few stings in the kisser, I jumped, then ran downhill through blackberry pricker canes with the hornets in pursuit. My dog and hiking partner got a head start and we all got more stings, hardly noticing the hooks on the berry bushes until afterward.
    "The fact that going off the deep end appears
    to be a requisite to doing anything of consequence
    in this life has not escaped me." Jim Harrison

  9. #9
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    NH 1,000 Highest
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    Tis the season, got stung nine times in late summer last year while we worked on the trail that my son did as an Eagle project, one ground nest at each end……
    Yup. I did East Quarry last month with a group of 12. In the middle of the switchback section there was an in-ground nest. Everyone after hikers one and two got stung, most multiple times. Those stings were itchy for a week.

    Moral of story — stay in the front of the pack!!
    Nobody told me there'd be days like these
    Strange days indeed -- most peculiar, mama

  10. #10
    Member Kyle D's Avatar
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    Nov 2013
    South Portland, ME
    I've had frequent encounters with them this year. Early August on Mt Cutler in Hiram our group had over 10 stings. Then on two separate hikes in Baxter late August my hiking partners were each stung.

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