Bohart Museum: How to Make a Paper Wasp Nest

When the Bohart Museum of Entomology hosts an open house on "Social Wasps" from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 20, the traditional family art-and-crafts activity will be something special. 

"We will be doing paper mache wasp nests; I'm thinking of starter queen nests, so small little paper wasp nests," said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. 

The event, free and family friendly, takes place in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus. Parking is also free.

UC Davis distinguished professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum, will be featured. She will answer questions on social wasps as visitors examine wasp specimens. The Bohart, the home of a worldwide collection of eight million insect specimens,has about 50,000 wasp specimens.

Kimsey defines social wasps as "Wasps that live together and cooperate in a colony, with female workers and a queen; only the queen has babies." To date, scientists have described some 2000 wasp species worldwide, with an estimated 500 yet to be described.

Kimsey says that common myths about wasps include:

  • They are often seen as malevolent beings out to get you and will chase you
  • That they serve no purpose except to annoy us
  • If you're allergic to bee stings you'll be allergic to wasp stings
  • A copper penny place on a sting will make it go away

However, "they provide valuable ecosystem services, they do pest control and they assist in nutrient recycling and pollination," she says.

Kimsey, who joined the UC Davis faculty in 1989 and became director of the Bohart Museum in 1990, plans to retire from the university in February 2024. However, she will remain executive director of the Bohart Museum Society. "It just means that I won't be teaching or doing university administrative things any more," she wrote in the current edition of the Bohart Museum Society Newsletter, which she writes and edits. 

The Bohart Museum also houses a live petting zoo, including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas; and an insect-themed gift shop stocked with T-shirts, hoodies, books, posters, jewelry and more. Further information is available on the Bohart Museum website at or by emailing