An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide –

Yellow Jackets On A Bender

10-27-17 yellow jackets 049A6627

At this time of year, yellow jackets, hornets and wasps take advantage of the plethora of fermented fruit that lies underneath fruit trees. Because the queen slows down the production of eggs in the fall, workers have time on their hands, as they have fewer larvae to collect food (chewed-up insects) for. Their life (but not the queen’s) is about to come to an end, and they go out in style. If you have observed these members of the Vespidae family acting more erratic, it may well be because they are drunk on hard cider. (Photo:  yellow jackets binging)

12 responses

  1. Do workers over-winter in “in-ground” nest settings or does just the queen survive. I stepped on an active in-ground nest while cutting brush. Will that hazard be there next spring ?

    October 27, 2017 at 8:42 am

    • Just the queen survives. New nests are built every year, but if a site is suitable and large enough, it (the site) can be re-used.

      October 27, 2017 at 8:45 am

      • Thank You! ….it’s a critical concept.

        October 27, 2017 at 8:49 am

    • Jo

      I did too, apparently… 5 stings – ouch! — and they kept coming after me as I ran away. Yikes! Couldn’t tell what type they were… hornets, wasps, etc.

      October 27, 2017 at 6:18 pm

  2. Kathie Fiveash

    When I was teaching Kindergarten, and we went outside for lunch in the late fall, it was always fraught with yellow jackets landing in the kids juice and jelly. We often had to beat a hasty retreat. But I always thought they (the yellow jackets) were just in their grumpy end-of-life mood. It never occurred to me that they might be “on a bender” as well!

    October 27, 2017 at 9:58 am

  3. James Macneil

    One last fling!

    October 27, 2017 at 10:41 am

  4. I believe that all the yellowjackets, hornets and other social wasps die off for the season, including the queen. You mention that only workers die off, but it is all of the old ones. New queens and males are produced, and newly fertilized queens them leave the nest to overwinter in a hidden spot to start a brand new colony the next spring. They survive, but the former queen and workers all die.

    October 27, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    • You’re absolutely right, Alonso. I neglected to mention that it was recently-emerged queens that survive!

      October 28, 2017 at 9:04 am

  5. Cheron barton


    Sent from my iPhone


    October 27, 2017 at 12:36 pm

  6. Alice Pratt

    Guaranteed & annoyingly so, I’ve taken some lunch out onto the deck, to enjoy with a glass of wine & a crossword puzzle…in the sunshine….these buggers destroy the fun.

    October 27, 2017 at 3:47 pm

  7. Michele

    Drunk bees.. who knew?

    Sent from my iPhone


    October 27, 2017 at 5:33 pm

  8. Given their approaching demise — I don’t blame them one bit.

    October 27, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s