Yellow Jacket nest in wall - now it's winter
I let a swarm of nested yellow jackets just live out their life-cycle during this last summer when the managed to build a hive inside an exterior wall (they entered through a open gap in the outdoor electrical outlet). Now it's winter - do I need to do anything? I've come to learn that they don't return to the same nest. I could plug the hole completely now - but would that be a good idea, or is the queen in there hibernating?
To be accurate in my recommendation, I will assume that you have identified the insects properly as yellow jackets rather than honey bees. Not that honey bees that nest in exterior walls of a home are not considered a pest (because they are in such cases), but honey bees will hibernate and may survive in their nest over the winter. Yellow jackets colonies will collapse and die off provided King County gets their share of freezing cold winter temperatures this season. You have heard correctly and most yellow jacket species will not colonize or return an old nesting site. Whatever you do, do not plug the hole until you are absolutely sure the insects have vacated the premises or died. These insects do have a tendency of chewing their way through wood or drywall to get out when trapped inside. There is no guarantee that they will not chew their way into the home rather than out of the home. Next spring, make sure there is no insect (bee or yellow jacket) activity at the open gap. If there is activity, don't hesitate to capture a digital image of home intruders, post it to this website for accurate identification. Alternatively, if there is activity and you are sure they are yellow jackets do not hesitate to contact a local and professional pest control specialist. They should be able to minimize the risk of stings while properly eradicating the pest.
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Thus, I recommend a wait-and-see approach.
Hope this helps.