How to Smoke a Hornet Nest

Updated April 04, 2017

As a colony grows, hornets add new combs to their hive. They can create nests in bushes, on tree limbs and even on the side of a house. Smoking out the nest can be a natural and effective method to rid your property of the hornet hive. You must take the proper safety precautions to avoid igniting a wildfire. Alternatively, if a nest is attached to the side of your home, call an exterminator or purchase a chemical spray to remove the hornets.

Light a small fire under the hornet nest. Use twigs, newspaper or dried pine needles to start the fire. Put small twigs on top of the flame to keep it burning. Be mindful of the hornets as you add grass to the top layer to generate smoke. Run for shelter if they begin to attack you.

Pay close attention to the fire. Don't allow the fire to grow too large and out of control.

Allow at least 20 minutes to pass for the smoke to reach the hornets before attempting to remove the nest.

Approach the hive with a long rake. Hit the nest where it attaches to the bush or limb. Let the nest fall to the ground and then push it into the fire with your rake.

Burn the hornet nest fully. Wait a day and then examine the nest to ensure that the hornet population has been exterminated.


The best time to smoke a nest is in the early morning or evening. Wear clothing that covers any exposed skin to help avoid being stung. Plan an escape route in case the hornets decide to attack you.


Keep a bucket of water nearby to stop fires. Never touch the hive with your bare hands.

Things You'll Need

  • Long rake
  • Matches
  • Bucket of water
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About the Author

Mary Corbin began her career writing for online and print media in Indianapolis. Since 2004, she has covered subjects such as home and family, technology and legal issues. Working in the broadcast industry, Corbin created articles for marketing, public relations and business matters. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.