How would YOU do as queen of a wasp colony? Find out by playing a bald-faced hornet queen. Your goal: to build a strong, safe wasp colony and produce enough queens by fall for future colonies.

As you make decisions along the way, remember these important facts about the colony's life cycle:

WINTER

  • A bald-faced hornet colony lasts from spring through autumn each year. Only the queen survives the winter, hibernating in a safe place.

SPRING

  • The queen builds a small nest and lays the first eggs.
  • Female workers hatch from these eggs. They take over foraging for food and building the nest so the queen can put her energy into laying more eggs.

SUMMER

  • This is an important time for feeding and growing the colony.
  • By late summer, some female larvae (hatchlings) receive more food so they can develop into queens.
  • Males are produced that can mate with the new queens.

FALL

  • All the wasps in the colony die except for the new fertilized queens. They'll bury themselves and sleep until spring, when they'll start their own colonies.

Things to Remember:

  • Other animals will try to destroy your nest, so build it in a safe place.
  • If you don't have enough food to feed the hive, your colony could die without any queens.
  • Don't let winter come without queens - but you'll also need males to mate with them and workers to feed them.

Good Luck!

Funding provided by National Science Foundation Grant DEB-0843505.