I was fortunate enough to find a Yellowjacket nest in my front yard. I was able to easily observe some of their behavior and conducted a few experiments to record their reaction.
I wanted to see how they would react to being seriously disturbed. Once getting set up and pounding on on the ground near their nest (about two minutes into this video), I stayed back at least 20 feet and kept a hood on on my head as a precaution. I did get stung once or twice over the summer but on this occasion only had one wasp land on the edge of my hood next to my cheek and snap its jawed for a few minutes before flying on. They stay disturbed for 45 minutes–until I drug the tripod and camera away (while keeping my distance). This tripod and camera did not bother the wasps until the ground vibrations caused by the pounding.
Wasps Less Disturbed
When they were less disturbed they reacted more slowly and most were just vigilant at the nest entrance with very few taking flight over the nest. This video includes the entire time until there was a single wasp on guard.
Leaves at the Nest Entrance
What happens when autumn leaves start to cover the entrance to a Yellowjacket wasp nest.
Cold November Morning
Yellowjacket behavior on a cold November morning.
These wasps make use of visual navigation to find their way back to their nest. The first 105 seconds of this video is before one of their landmarks is moved.