Mexican paper wasp

Mexican paper wasp (brachygastra mellifica)

Mexican paper wasp (brachygastra mellifica)

Here and there as you wander around Oaxaca, you’ll run across these sorts of nests hanging from tree branches or under the eves of houses. They are quite impressive structures, and always busy with activity. Unlike the sorts of bees’ or wasps’ nests you find in North America, I’ve rarely seen these Mexican paper wasps (brachygastra mellifica) swarming or flying in and out of their nest. Obviously they do, because they gather pollen in order to make honey for their young, just as honey bees do. But as in this photo, what you normally see is the wasps busy on the exterior of the nest repairing and expanding it.

These wasps are not aggressive, in my experience, but they do become irritated when local kids, being kids, hurl rocks and sticks at their nests. The insects are quite small in comparison with US wasps, but their sting will get your attention.

A nest like this is a community effort, with every insect doing his part to provide a safe home for himself, his hive and his offspring.

Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. — Proverbs 6:6-8, NLT

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  1. Perhaps another perspective? What a foolish creature to cloister their whole community together in such a fragile home where they all could be destroyed by wind, rain or predator.

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