We have a hole in the ground where we have observed bees coming and going. Now an animal has dug into the hole, enlarging it and scattering papery hive material. There is more hive material in the hole which we can see now goes under our concrete patio. Don't notice bees now; this just happened couple days ago and weather got cold suddenly. My question is what happens to these bees in the winter? Do they vacate? Return next year? Can I just fill in the hole and be done with them? As the hole is next to my patio, I fear getting stung. Thank you.
Hennepin County Minnesota yellow jackets
Bumble bees and honey bees typically do not nest in groups in the ground. I strongly suspect that what you have is a nest of Eastern Yellow Jackets. This is the time of year that they are rather active. Here is a publication that should help you determine that these indeed are yellow jackets:
Yellow jackets and their pupae do not survive the winter so the nest should be safe to handle (fill in) after we've had a couple of hard frosts. The insects won't reuse the nest so you should have no concern about their coming back to visit you in 2019.
Although reference is made to Pennsylvania, the information in the below also pertains to Minnesota:
With respect to what animal has been visiting your nest, I would guess that it is either a skunk or a raccoon. After the yellow jackets have died (mid October?), you can fill in the hole and that should take care of any four-legged creature visiting it.