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Truth or tale; How high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest
REGION- Did you ever wonder what people did before the age of meteorologists, before the weatherman came on the television every half hour updating what the weather was going to be like for upcoming days?
Well, the answer lies in part with the old-timers’ way of looking to nature for their answers. This particular saying, “How high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest,” is one of the sayings they used to come up with.
I was asked a few weeks back to shed some light on how much truth is in the riddle. I am here to let you know, while I appreciate and am fascinated by the ways of the past, I have done some research that shows the height of a nest has nothing to do with how much snow will fall.
It all stems from the life cycle of the hornet and their habits.
You see, a colony of hornets can be built with only one, the queen. The cycle begins in the fall when the queen starts to mate underneath wood bark or in the soil to survive the spring. The queen comes out in the spring to look for a place to nest and start her new colony.
She begins by laying as many eggs as she can and after a little more than a week, the eggs evolve into larvae, which go through another five stages of formation over the next 15 days.
During their last stage, the larvae come out from their protective layer. Keep in mind they are now new hornets, but they are unable to do anything. Seven days later, new worker hornets emerge.
During this time, the queen will continue to lay eggs until there will be new queens and male hornets. The life span of the workers is only four weeks and they die. New workers will emerge every 15 days, replacing the older workers.
Workers will feed the new queens and male hornets while the first queen will leave the colony to die. When the time comes and the new queens are ready, male hornets will mate them and soon die after mating.
The workers die during the start of fall and become the last batch of workers. The new queens will look for a place to hide in order to survive the winter, at which time, the cycle begins again. The nest will be abandoned and a new one will be built the next spring, therefore, leading to the fact that it doesn’t play a role in the depth of winter snowfall.