Bee Nest in Cemetery
July 13, 2010
I was exploring a cemetery in Canal Fulton (Northeast Ohio) and got stung when looking into a mausoleum.

Yellowjacket Nest at Mathie Mausoleum

After recovering from the sting I returned to the site to see what stung me and why, I did not see this nest at first and I’m sure I was stung because I got too close. Can you tell me what type of bee/wasp these are?
Canal Fulton, OH

Yellowjacket Nest on Ionic Column

Hi Dave,
We don’t mean to make light of what we are certain was a painful sting, but we found your letter positively captivating, and we think your photos are exceptional.  These are Yellow Jackets, most probably Eastern Yellowjackets,
Vespula maculifrons, which BugGuide indicates is:  “one of the most abundant yellowjackets in the U.S. east of the Plains states.”  BugGuide also states the Eastern Yellowjacket is found in “Meadows and edges of forested land, usually nesting in ground or at ground level in stumps and fallen logs.”  Perhaps the queen, who started building this nest before she had produced a brood of workers, mistook that ionic column for a stump.

Update: July 15, 2010
We now believe this is probably the Common Aerial Yellowjacket,
Dolichovespula arenaria, which is featured on BugGuide.

Eric Eaton Confirms ID
Hi, Daniel:
“Has” to be the “Aerial Yellowjacket,” Dolichovespula arenaria.  They are actually quite beneficial predators of flies, so if they can be left alone…..The nesting season for this species is also shorter than for others, so it should be abandoned sometime in late August or early September at the latest.

Location: Ohio

2 Responses to Our Favorite Letter of the day: Aerial Yellowjackets nest in mausoleum!!!

  1. SGraves says:

    I thought yellow jackets had their nests in the ground, like bumble bees and only hornets made the paper nests like this.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for asking your question. First off, Yellowjackets and Hornets are closely related, both being in the subfamily Vespinae. We know that Yellowjackets often nest underground, so we did additional research. One species in particular, the Common Aerial Yellowjacket, Dolichovespula arenaria, frequently nests above ground. According to BugGuide: “They have mostly aerial nests, from a few centimeters above ground to the tops or trees, or houses or sheds. But in some cases they build nests under rocks or even underground.” The BugGuide data page also lists them in Ohio.

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