Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Buzzing about bumblebees with Chan Dolan

A female tricolored bumble bee forages on a hoary alyssum flower in Crow Wing County on July 25, 2021. The bee has a large bald spot on its thorax and two orange stripes on its abdomen. Its hind legs hold bundles of pollen.bee forages on a hoary alyssum flower in Crow Wing County on July 25, 2021.
/
iNaturalist user xuxal
A female tricolored bumble bee forages on a hoary alyssum flower in Crow Wing County on July 25, 2021.

This month, bumblebee researcher Chan Dolan joined the morning show to discuss the life cycle and nesting habits of Minnesota’s native bumblebees. This segment is a follow-up to the "Decline of Native Pollinators" series, produced by Mark Jacobs, which investigates the causes and complexities of pollinator decreases in Minnesota.

KAXE's Tuesday Morning Show strives to take an in-depth look at some natural resource-based issues important to our region. Producer Mark Jacobs and hosts Heidi Holtan and John Latimer discuss not only the problems, but highlight some creative solutions.

This week, John and Heidi spoke with Chan Dolan, a bumblebee researcher with the University of Minnesota’s entomology department. Mark Jacobs also joined the Morning Show to chat about the life cycle and nesting habits of Minnesota’s native bumblebees.

Bumblebee researcher Chan Dolan smiles at the camera.
Contributed
/
Chan Dolan
Chan Dolan is a bumble bee researcher with the University of Minnesota.
“It’s a big deal to be a queen in the spring. It’s a lot of pressure.”

Chan started focusing on bumblebee nesting habits and habitat as an undergraduate in Iowa. Having recently completed her M.S. in entomology, she is continuing this important work in Minnesota.

In this interview, Chan walked us through the fascinating life cycle of bumblebees; from queens emerging in the spring looking for flowering plants, to the roles of worker bees and males, to new queens finding a nest location in the fall for hibernation.

In order to complete their annual life cycle, bumblebees require food from flowers throughout the growing season, appropriate places to nest and raise colonies, and safe habitat for the new queens to overwinter.

Topics

  • Introduction (0:00-0:38) 
  • Chan's work with the University of Minnesota Entomology Department (0:38-1:16) 
  • Chan’s interest in bumblebees (1:16-1:50) 
  • Overwintering habits of bumblebees (1:50-4:33) 
    • Overwintering habitat (1:50-3:18) 
    • Queen bumblebees fatten up for winter (3:18-4:33) 
  • Trees for bees and how rodents provide housing for bee colonies (4:33-6:50) 
  • Creating and provisioning the nest cells, laying eggs, incubating larvae (6:50-8:23) 
  • Initial colony size (8:23-9:42) 
  • Nest size strategy among different species (9:42-11:30) 
  • Bumblebee sexes (11:30-12:37, 13:55-16:15) 
    • Queens (11:30-12:37) 
    • Males and workers (13:55-15:33) 
    • How to identify the sexes (15:33-16:15) 
  • Bumblebees parasitizing other bumblebees (12:37-13:55) 
  • How likely are you to be stung by a bumblebee? (16:15-17:41) 
  • Hope for the bumblebees (17:42-18:47) 
  • Conclusion (18:47-18:57) 
Related stories

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

Stay Connected