Yellow jackets can be ground nesting wasps which are distinguishable from paper wasps by their shorter and stockier waists. They can and do nest beneath eaves, but since they are up high, they are much less of a problem than the ground nesting variety. The ground nesters can be a serious problem, especially if you step on their nest.
The Underground Nest
The most common underground nest is an abandoned rodent hole, but hollows in trees, stumps, wall cavities and even wood piles can be used to nest in. And just like the umbrella shaped paper nests that they make in trees or beneath eaves, this same type of nest is also constructed under ground.
Spring to Fall
An underground nest is impervious to high winds, rain, and even cold snaps. In the spring, the queen searches out a place to nest and establishes a colony. She raises the first few workers and after that, they take over the nursery duties while the queens prime function is to lay eggs.
In late fall, the coming cold weather shuts down the hive, and the only wasp that overwinters successfully is the queen. She hibernates until next spring when the whole process begins again.