Murder Hornet Nest

Act 7 of POSERS will see the return of our Giant Asian Murder Hornet puppets. I hadn’t planned to reveal where they came from, until I was faced with needing a ceiling in Amanda & Sushi’s Japanese minka — their supervillain lair. So then it hit me that I could solve both problems at once, by designing a ceiling that was also a nest. Creepy? Yes!

This is the photo that inspired me. I researched as much as I could about bees, wasps and hornets — and I’ve always been intrigued by them. Especially how they build, how they communicate and how they organize themselves to do the Queen’s bidding.

My first prototype looked good at first, but it wasn’t stiff enough to support its own weight. I used card stock for this, folding each tube into a hexagon shape. But you can see what happed after I coated them with papier-mâché. They became stiff, but they deformed way too much.

So next I found some rather expensive white cardboard called chipboard. This prototype was a success. It took a lot more labor, however, as I had to score each fold with an Xacto knife. In the background you can see a woolen dryer ball. That ball’s diameter dictated the size of each comb. I will stuff those balls into the ends of a few combs to look like silk cocoons that haven’t yet hatched. The hexagon sides turned out to be 1-1/4″ each.

I made about 140 of these combs and glued them onto a 2×4′ sheet of corrugated cardboard. Notice how they vary in height. The average hornet comb has about a 2:1 ratio of height to diameter in real life. I also left gaps in the honeycomb pattern, to give it more of an authentic organic quality since hornets don’t use rigidly structured bee apiary panels. Today I’m going to squirt some yellow foam sealant into the joints to make it look like waxy build-up. (Hornets don’t produce honey.)

I got pretty excited to learn that cocoon silk glows under blacklight, since I’ve shot many scenes in POSERS using UV lamps and UV-reactive materials and paints. So I found special spray paint and a string of blacklight LED “fairy lights” that are programmable. These lights are spaced four inches apart, which is perfect. I poked a hole at the base of each comb and then on the back of the cardboard, I fashioned a circuit board by bending and poking each LED up into the hole. Then I secured all the wires with Frog Tape across each row.

Here are the wool dryer balls. I bought two bags of nine. I originally thought I could just cut them in half but they proved too difficult to set in the tubes that way. But I’ll use fibers and clumps from the cut-up ball to glue debris in the honeycomb. That will look like cocoons that have hatched but haven’t been cleaned out of the nest yet.

And finally, here’s one of the Giant Asian Murder Hornet puppets I’ll be using. These came out of Japanese capsule toy vending machines, ordered through eBay. I already had a set of three but decided to buy three more.

The nest was looking too sterile so I used some yellow foam sealant to simulate the muddy pulp hornets regurgitate as an adhesive. I gave it a light coat of metallic gold paint and then another heavy coat of Glow in the Dark paint — especially on the cocoons. This photo is upside down, while everything dries on the porch.

Once complete, the nest will be mounted upside down across the top of Amanda & Sushi’s living room. The 2×4′ panel bowed at first, so I glued and screwed it to a particle board plank. The lighting looks super cool and dramatic. I used two cans of Glow in the Dark spray paint for the insides of the combs, and any outside portion that’ll face the camera. The LED controller can make the lights pulse or “breath.” And when the purplish lights are off, the tubes continue to glow neon green. Will post video of that later, as WordPress makes that very difficult for some stupid reason.