Colla Conservation Science Lab


Part of York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change in Toronto, Canada, we study and share what we learn about native pollinators – here in the Great Lakes Region and globally.



Colla Conservation Science Lab, led by Dr. Sheila Colla, is interested in all aspects of native pollinator conservation. Our research includes ecology, biology, policy, and community science. See our latest projects →

What we do

Our Research

Bumblebee Ecology & Conservation

We use a variety of methods to understand how bumblebees move on landscapes, what they require for forage, nesting and overwintering habitat and how their life history traits make them vulnerable to environmental stressors.

Public Education

We frequently give public talks, webinars, bee walks and set up bee information tables. Topics include bee identification, how you can help conserve native bees, and learning about BumbleBeeWatch.


We work with numerous Environmental NGOs, government agencies and other organizations to extend our research findings into the real world.

Interdisciplinary Approach

We are working to understand how human perception has influenced pollinator conservation policy and looking to see where stakeholder collaboration can be best achieved to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Ways to Help


SHARE BUMBLE BEE SIGHTINGS. Conservation Scientists rely on data collected by community scientists. If you spend time outdoors and tend to have your phone or camera handy, you can submit bumble bee sightings at

GROW HABITAT. Native pollinators need native plants. If there’s land you steward, learn about the native pollinators in your area and the important plants they’ve co-evolved with.

ADVOCATE FOR A POLLINATOR PLAN. The majority of Canadians want wild pollinators protected, and a national pollinator conservation plan can help. Let government representatives know this is important.



A Garden for the Rusty-patched Bumblebee: Creating Habitat for Native Pollinators (Ontario and Great Lakes Edition) is a resource for gardeners who want to learn about pollinators and for ento fans who want to learn about gardening. Co-written by Colla Lab founder Dr. Sheila Colla and author  Lorraine Johnson with beautiful illustrations by artist Ann Sanderson, it’s a national bestseller and available in many libraries and local bookshops. Find it here →


The endangered Rusty-patched Bumble Bee was once historically common throughout its large range in Canada (Ontario and Quebec) and the USA. In the past three decades it has become rare, with only a handful of individuals spotted each year.

This species is one of the first to emerge in the spring and the colony finishes up in the fall, requiring multi-season sustenance. This free poster (click below to download it) shows some examples of native plants to grow in a flower patch for the Rusty-patched to help support the full life cycle of this bee on the brink of extinction.

The design was made possible through a grant to Wildlife Preservation Canada from The Rogers Foundation and the beautiful illustrations are by artist Ann Sanderson.


Community science supports wild bee conservationists

In a paper published May 2024 in the science journal PLOS ONE, author and Colla Lab member Dr. Victoria MacPhail concretely documents just how effective community scientists have been in helping identify bumble bee species, habitat, species associations, distribution, and changes in population size, all of which helps to inform conservation management for bumble bees.

Collaborative Research

What have we been up to lately?? Over the past year and a half, we have been connected with York University's new organized research unit - the Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation! As a member of the executive team, I am helping to shape the future of...

Bumblebees galore: Nest relocations and RFID tagging

The 2018 field season has been an eventful one for me.  From relocating bumblebee colonies in broad daylight (hint: not highly recommended), to attaching tiny RFID tags on bumblebees' backs in a beautiful pollinator park in Guelph, there have been many memorable...

The Colla Lab is in the news!

The Colla Lab has been featured in a in-depth article in the Toronto Star, by reporter Kate Allen. Please check out the article entitled "Climate Change and the Global Species Shakeup" with the link below:...