Yellowjacket wasps enter and exit a hive in Bloomingdale, searching for meat, fish and insects to feed to the hive’s larvae and searching for wood to built more of their paper nest.
(Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

A yellowjacket hive hangs from a tree in a Bloomingdale garden. Yellowjackets are wasps, not bees.
(Enterprise photo —
Aaron Cerbone)

BLOOMINGDALE — Each year, a yellowjacket hive is built from a tree in a garden in Bloomingdale. This hive was started this spring by the queen, called a “foundress,” who built the intricate honeycomb structure by herself from wood fiber chewed into a sort of paper until it was the size of a baseball.

These hives can house as many as 1,000 to 3,000 wasps, which build the hive out to around the size of a basketball.

Yellowjackets are wasps, not bees, and are one of the few social varieties who live in hives. They do not carry pollen. They eat meat, fish and insects when they are larvae and drink nectar and juice when they are older. The females can sting repeatedly and use their stinger to subdue their prey.

Adult yellowjacket bodies become too thin between their abdomen and thorax to process solids, so they feed the chewed-up bug pulp to the larvae, which in turn secrete a sugary liquid from its salivary glands that the adult can process.

The adult offspring will leave the hive to cross-mate with other colonies. Meanwhile, the new queens will build up fat reserves to overwinter. They will be the only ones to survive the winter, while fertilized, emerging in the spring to build their new hives.


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