• Germany's news in English

Heidelberg home has huge hornet nest

The Local · 31 Aug 2011, 07:19

Published: 31 Aug 2011 07:19 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Located up on the balcony door to Willi and Gerda Beck’s house in the village of Nußloch in Baden-Württemberg, the nest is approximately 2.5 metres across.

"Maybe it’s not the biggest in the world – but the dimensions are definitely extraordinary and its shape amazing," said hornet-expert Melanie von Orlow of the nature protection agency NABU. She’s especially amazed that the nature-loving couple is tolerating the hornets.

The nest only grew to its current proportions by chance. Beck’s son-in-law suggested the family arrange to have the protected species moved. But when the 70-year-old Willi called a local nature warden, he was away on holiday. The second one was ill. When the third warden finally came to check out the situation weeks later, it was clear the nest could no longer be transported.

At the end of May, the hornet home was confined to the top of the opening for the window blind; now the Becks can no longer open their first story balcony door.

The good news? The insects don't appear to be dangerous. Von Orlow assured them that “hornets are more peaceful than wasps. As long as one doesn’t shake the nest or manipulate it, everything is okay." A hornet's sting is also no more dangerous, she said. Besides, "whoever has hornets, doesn’t have wasps."

"They leave us alone when we’re in the garden," said 63-year-old Gerda.

In fact, the hornets eat many common garden pests, especially aphids. The buzzing colony also offers the Becks some in-house entertainment: they can observe the hornets' complex through the window.

The hornets, estimated to number between 700 and 1,000, don’t bother Gerda, but she said her husband’s a little squeamish.

The Becks have to put up with the hornets until the end of October, von Orlow said. By then, the insects will have left the nest and died.

"In September, though, there’s still a lot going on – the nest might grow even bigger," she said.

Story continues below…

Large hornet nests are normally found only in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg in Germany, according to NABU.

The giant specimen in Nußloch is also a special treat for von Orlow, who said this year has been an especially bad one for Germany's hornet population.

DPA/The Local/emh

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:11 August 31, 2011 by Gretl
Normally, hornets = yellow jackets. These must be different if they are not aggressive AND protected. Many times when they nest in the rouladen, they get into the house. I wonder if they've done something to block them from entering?
13:41 August 31, 2011 by Ebolter
I bet this bugged the occupants .
14:32 August 31, 2011 by jbaker
Karma must be making it's rounds back to the house.
15:37 August 31, 2011 by Aelfgifu1
I like their attitude. They've basically accepted that there's nothing they can do against the protected species and have decided to make the best of it. It's refreshing.
22:51 August 31, 2011 by DOZ
If it's not Rodential it's not a pest. It's only one summer out of their lives. Rodents and Humans (same species) are really the only pests, especially if they own pools or waterfront property.
07:22 September 1, 2011 by crunchy2k
I found a nest over the front door in my house while I was renting it out for college funds. The renter complained for days and I finally sealed up all the cracks with foam insulation. I finally saw the whole nest after the renter started a fire while smoking a joint in a flammable chair and the sheet rock had to be removed. The nest covered an area above the front door frame of 2'x3'x4''. Bugs will be bugs...And karma sucks.
16:45 September 2, 2011 by Sastry.M
May be a message to humanity not to stir them with zeal to install democracy and freedom, presently being waged around the world by the self righteous super powers .
Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd