Yellow jackets live in hives with colonies. The wasps are diurnal, or active during the day, and only live for one season. Wasps are beneficial insects, as they eat damaging pests found in gardens. Yellow jackets have the ability to sting multiple times and are often aggressive when the hive is disturbed. Yellow jacket nests are found in places such as hollow logs, wall voids, in underground holes and in protected spaces indoors.
When a yellow jacket nest is disturbed, the wasps in the hive respond by attacking the threat. With colonies of up to 5,000 yellow jackets possible, the wasps can ward off predators of all sizes. During spring and summer, the workers protect the nest and gather food for the larvae and queen.
The queen lays eggs during the spring and summer, and the colony dies during the winter. In spring, a new queen hatches from an egg, and the colony moves into a new nest.
Yellow jackets eat a wide variety of foods, including meat, fruit nectar and other insects. The wasps are attracted to sweet scents, such as soda and fruit, and are often found near garbage cans. Yellow jackets also eat honey and have been observed eating honey from beehives.