Yellow jackets can often be mistaken for bees because of their yellow and black coloring. However, there are many differences between yellow jackets and bees.
Bees are round and fuzzy-looking, while yellow jackets are thin and long and appear smooth. Bees build hives of wax and are usually found in hollow logs or wood. Yellow jackets build nests out of paper, and these nests are often built under ground. You can also find them in other crevices in buildings, or under porches.
Bees are pollinators that eat nectar from flowering plants. Yellow jackets eat insects, and sometimes scavenge eating carrion and garbage. That is why during summer picnics, you can usually find yellow jackets buzzing around the garbage can.
Finally, both bees and yellow jackets have stingers that can inflict a very painful sting. The difference between them, however, is that bees lose their stingers when they sting, and yellow jackets don’t. This enables yellow jackets to sting multiple times, making them, potentially, more dangerous.