Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Large mystery bee

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Question
Large bee
Large bee  
I found a mysterious bee today that was very large. It was not very aggressive. I was a little surprised to see it outside on a day like today. It was very windy today and in the 50s. Hurricane Sandy made land fall south-southwest of us. We live in central New York and didn't get much rain, just a lot of wind. There were probably 10 bees in total and I managed to capture one for a photo. I measured it with a ruler and it was 1 inch. I did not harm it in case it was uncommon or endangered. Can you identify it for me? The white stripe in the photo is because of the flash of my phone. The front of the bee's body is black and red, while the back of the body is yellow and black striped.

Answer
Jared:

This is not a bee, but a true hornet, the "European Hornet," Vespa crabro .  Here is a link with more information:

http://bugguide.net/node/view/7230

Their nests should be winding down now, and queen hornets looking for a sheltered place to overwinter.  Workers and males do not survive the winter.  Queens will start new nests next spring.

By the way, I doubt a flimsy plastic bag would keep it from stinging you, if it is a female (queen or worker; males do not have stingers).  Be careful.

Eric

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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