One of Canada's Premier Birding and Nature Festivals

Searching for the Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee

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Currently, Dr. Sheila Colla, Co-author of A Guide to the Bumblebees of North America is a Project Leader at Wildlife Preservation Canada looking to bring the Rusty-patched bumblebee and other at-risk pollinators back from the brink of extinction.

She is also a first-time event leader at HFBF bringing her special expertise highlighting the plight of bees that we are all aware of today.


Photo courtesy Johanna James-Heinz

Her work involves looking for extant populations of declining species and working with Citizen Scientists, Parks Employees and Landowners to gather data to produce a conservation management plan.

A recent article in the Walrus ( would be one of the best places to get a true sense of her commitment to helping the wild populations of these important native pollinators.

Sheila has also posted a number of blogs on Wildlife Preservation Canada that you will also find interesting:

Her “Meet the Bees” field trip is now full. But you can still sign up for A34 -THE PLIGHT OF THE BUMBLEBEE at 7:15 PM on Sunday May 25. It’s an evening presentation where Sheila will talk about the status of Canadian bumblebees and show you tools for identification to species level. A new Citizen Science project will also be discussed.

Sheila has an Honours Bachelor of Zoology from the University of Toronto, and completed her Ph.D. in Biology at York University. She began working with native pollinators in 2004 as a research assistant to Dr. James Thomson. During her undergraduate degree she was involved in projects observing pollinator foraging behaviour and evolutionary ecology. Her honours thesis documented the spillover of diseases from managed bumblebees to native bumblebees in southern Ontario. Her Ph.D. work focused on assessing the conservation status and ecological requirements for eastern North American bumblebees. This work was the first quantitative study documenting the decline of native bumblebees in the region and lead to the Rusty-patched Bumblebee being listed as Endangered in Canada and in Ontario. Additional projects in collaboration with universities and museum in Canada, USA, UK and China have assessed the status of native species and looked more deeply into possible causes for decline. Her research has been featured on Quirks & Quarks, Discovery Channel’s the Daily Planet, the Washington Post, and David Suzuki’s Nature of Things.

In addition to scientific research, Sheila has been actively working on outreach, education and advocacy with regards to pollinator conservation, ecosystem services and sustainable agriculture.  She has worked with numerous NGOs and government agencies including Pollinator Partnership, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, USDA-Forest Service, FAO, Canadian Wildlife Service, OMNR and Natureserve. She is currently the North American Coordinator (with Dr. Robbin Thorp) of the IUCN SSC Bumblebee Specialist Group, which aims to use IUCN criteria to assess the status of wild bumblebees worldwide.

If you want to stay on top of the Plight of the Bumble Bee, WPC recently launched It’s an interactive site that gives you an e-newsletter, tells you how to report bee sightings and so much more.



for A34 -THE PLIGHT OF THE BUMBLEBEE at 7:15 PM, Sunday May 25.




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