My friend Juli thought she might have a swarm of honey bees in a lobster buoy on her front porch (this is, after all, Maine).
So, I went over to look at lunchtime, as the prospect of a swarm to plop in a nuc (nucleus hive) was appealing (free-bees).
Sadly, she had nasty yellow jackets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_jacket)
For those of you who think you might have a swarm of bees, here are a few clues (in this particular instance):
• The yellow jacket nest looks a bit like like gray paper (see detail photo below)
vs. a honey bee hive, where they would build hexagonal comb
• Yellow jackets are (mostly) shiny and the yellow is VERY yellow – their abdomens look kind of like armor.
• Honey bees are fuzzy all over and more of an orange/tan color
• Honey bees are a lot “nicer” (yes, I am biased) in that they are not really interested in stinging you – if they sting you they will die – they will only sting if they feel you are threatening the entire hive.