The lifecycle of a yellow jacket begins when the queen, who has survived the winter, begins to build a nest. She constructs it with chewed-up cellulose, building cells to lay her eggs in. Eventually, the nest will grow, consisting of 30 to 55 cells.
The yellow jacket queen lays one egg in each cell and feeds it nectar and protein. After about 30 days, the first eggs hatch, and about 5 to 7 workers emerge. These yellow jacket workers then take over the care and feeding of the rest of the eggs.
An average yellow jacket nest will consist of between 2,000 and 6,000 cells and 1,000 to 4,000 workers. Special cells are built to rear the new queens and males. Eventually, these yellow jackets leave the nest to mate. The inseminated females return in the fall to hibernate through the winter while the rest of colony dies off.