As part of our ephemeral art lesson I brought a wasp nest into class for the students to take apart and study. I wanted to put an end to the confusion between a feral beehive and a wasp's nest.
The nest was attached to a branch in a rhododendron bush is our back yard. We watched it grow over the summer as bald-faced hornets came and went and never bothered us at all.
The students pulled open some of the cells that were closed on top and found wasps in various stages of decay. Some had been hollowed out from inside by parasites. There was a mass of spider eggs and a few tiny hatched spiders living in the defunct nest.
The students cut and tore the paper and added it to the ephemeral material piles.
The teacher and I talked about one of the quintessential sounds of summer--wasps scraping wood off of fence posts to use to make paper .
Each student had a turn at having a close encounter with a wasp's nest. Hopefully this will help turn fear of wasps into respectful curiosity.