Gerry was watching these wasps at work and got a little closer to the nest to take this photo, but had to back off as they got closer too!
I thought Gerry was wrong to refer to these “bees” as wasps, but in digging a little deeper, I realized that I was the one in error.
Hornets, like many social wasps, can mobilize the entire nest to sting in defense: this is highly dangerous to humans. The hornet alarm pheromone is used to raise alarm of nest attack, and to identify prey, for example bees. It is not advisable to kill a hornet anywhere near a nest, as the distress signal can trigger the entire nest to attack. Materials that come in contact with pheromone, such as clothes, skin, dead prey or hornets, must be removed from the vicinity of the hornets nest. Perfumes, and other volatile chemicals can be falsely identified as pheromone by the hornets and trigger attack.
My bee guy told me that you can neutralize hornet & yellowjacket venom with “Shout” – I have no idea whether or not that is true!
I still can’t tell what particular breed these wasps are, but the most common breed in our region is now the German yellowjacket. The Yellowjacket & Hornets through a Lens at bugguide.net might hold the answer!