Last week, I saw these wasps working on a nest under the eaves of a building. I was curious because the wasps were mostly stationary, almost like a still life painting (top photo). Then another wasp flew in and the ones on the nest burst into life, swarming the newcomer, and bustling about their business.
I went outside with my camera and watched the activity. A couple of wasps flew away while the others continued with their work. Within a minute or two they slowed down until they were again mostly stationary. It occurred to me that this was all part of the process. Wasps flew in with building materials or water. Other wasps received this and used it to add to the nest. When they were done, they waited, conserving energy, until another delivery occurred and the cycle kicked off again.
I waited with my camera and, sure enough, a wasp flew in (at the bottom of the second photo). The others responded, crowding around for supplies, before dispersing to their work sites on the nest. I’ve watched wasps building nests before, and seen a nest grow to the size of a football, but I’d never registered this work and rest cycle before.