Making gardens buzz with bee-friendly plants


TORONTO, May 19, 2020 – As people flock to garden stores to start freshening up their winter tired yards and gardens, it’s a good time to think of bee-friendly plants, especially as May 20 is World Bee Day, says Assistant Professor Sheila Colla, an expert in native bees and conservation.

Flowers, such as black-eyed Susans, serviceberry, purple coneflowers, as well as milkweeds and various kinds of legumes are all good choices for attracting pollinators. But the ground is also important to many native bees who like to nest and overwinter in the soil or old plant stalks.

“Providing native flowering plants in your garden can help native wild pollinators, but also helps the sustainability of our natural ecosystems and urban food security,” says Colla, who leads the Conservation Science Lab in the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES). “We rely on pollinators to pollinate our crops as well as our vegetable, flower and community gardens, but many of our bumble bees are in decline.”

With the current pandemic, many city dwellers may be considering planting vegetables for the first time. Whether it is in their yard, a community garden or in pots on their balconies, these gardens can help support pollinators by providing biodiversity, as well as food.

And as the coronavirus continues to limit social interactions, Colla suggests people consider planting resilience gardens to increase mental wellness, while providing nutrition and plants for pollinators.

To learn more about bees and other pollinators, the Faculty of Science and FES are hosting a free Q&A, The Buzz on Bees on World Bee Day, from noon to 1:30 pm. It will feature some of York’s top bee experts, Professors Amro Zayed, Laurence Packer, Sandra Rehan and Colla from the Bee Ecology, Evolution and Conservation group, and is moderated by York alumna World Wildlife Fund-Canada President Megan Leslie.

Colla can discuss the following:

  • What are some of the best plants to attract pollinators?
  • How is the ground just as important to native bees?
  • How pollinators contribute to food security and biodiversity
  • Current threats to bees, including Asian giant hornets, known as the “murder hornet”
  • How pollinators contribute to sustainable development


York University champions new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-disciplinary programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 25 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 300,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media Contact:

Sandra McLean, York University Media Relations, 416-272-6317,