Baya Weaver – Hornets

posted in: Interspecific | 4


Birds have been known to build their nests in close proximity to nests or hives of ants, bees and wasps. There is an advantage in such a relationship as the nesting birds are generally protected from predators, not so much by ants but more so by wasps.

A number of Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus) nests were recently seen high up the same tree where the lesser-banded hornets (Vespa affinia, Family Vespidae) have built their large nest (right). This nest, built from finely chewed fragments of wood mixed with saliva, has a typically papery appearance, thus it is sometimes known as paper wasp (below).

A social insect, the hornet has a distinct yellow banding on its first and second abdominal segments. It is also the most aggressive of the three species of hornets found in Singapore. It will attack with the slightest provocation and its sting is painful. The effect of the poison injected with the sting depends on the species and how sensitive the victim is to the poison. Response can be localized pain, swelling and redness. In more serious cases chest constriction, wheezing and vomiting may occur. Immediate medical attention is advisable.


Because of the poisonous nature of its sting and its inclination to attack at the slightest provocation, hornet gives perfect protection to the nesting weavers.

In a study in Ghana, it was shown that the Red-cheeked Cordonbleu (Uraeginthus bengalus) benefited by nesting near the wasp Ropalidia cincta. The chicks of these birds were twice as likely to fledge as those that nest in trees without wasps. Reduced predation was apparently a major reason for increased fledging success. There were four cases of nest predation on 122 Red-cheeked Cordonbleu nests associated with wasps, and 11 cases on 90 nests not associated with wasps.

Text by YC Wee, images by Chan Yoke Meng, wasp identification by Prof Cheong Loong Fah

Beier, P. & Tungbani, A. I. (2006). Nesting with the wasp Ropalidia cincta increases nest success of Red-cheeked Cordonbleu (Uraeginthus bengalus) in Ghana. The Auk 123(4):1022-37.

Gopalakrishnakone, P. (ed.) (1990). A colour guide to dangerous animals. Singapore University Press.

Follow YC Wee:

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

4 Responses

  1. Serene

    Since the hornets are so agressive, will they not attack the Baya weavers & the chicks?

  2. Gillie

    On a bush walk today we were moving a fallen branch that shook the hornet’s nest (unbeknownst to us) and then I heard this buzzing like a humming bird. Next thing a hornet hits my head and stings me on the top of the head in one swoop. It flew off then came back for another swoop on my hiking partner. He didnt get stung – luckily for him.
    Its now 9hrs since the sting and it still hurts like hell. These guys are aggressive and they sting aint fun. Its not super painful, but it just doesnt stop. It hurts now just as much as it did when I got hit.
    Steer clear of these nexts at all costs!!!!

  3. cincta

    […] (required) Website. Notify me of follow-up comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. …Bird Ecology Study Group Baya Weaver – HornetsIn a study in Ghana, it was shown that the Red-cheeked Cordonbleu (Uraeginthus bengalus) benefited […]

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