|Check out her stinger!|
Well, one of the Queens is dead.
The last time we visited the Yellow Jackets, they were in mad prep for the coming of winter.
I was trying to decide what to do (hire an exterminator or let them be).
I decided, knowing the residents of the hive were going to die, to leave them alone.
Late in summer, by the magic of biology, the one Queen in the hive lays several eggs that are either male or new queens.
Prior to that, all the worker wasps (see the smaller one in the picture) are infertile females.
These new hive members are treated like royalty. The worker wasps feed and fatten them up.
In late Fall, the male wasps and the new Queen wasps leave the hive in search of mates. They do not mate with wasps from their own hive.
The males find Queens from other hives, mate and then die.
The newly fertilized Queens find a nice warm place to overwinter (holes in trees, animal burrows, weep holes in my house, etc) and in the spring the whole thing starts all over again.
The dead queen in my picture was just emerging from one of the weep holes in my house where the whole hive is stationed. She wasn't sure about coming out, so I took the opportunity to run to the house for wasp spray. I am certain she was not the only new Queen that was being fed this fall.
A cold front blew in this morning and by tomorrow morning we will have had our first freeze.
I will plug up all our weep holes with steel wool to keep any errant Queens from building in my house again next spring.