World Bee Day

By , May 24, 2022

World Bee Day, a chance to remind people how important, and how threatened, the insects are” was published by CBC on May 20th, and portions of the interview were also aired on CBC Radio.

In the article, Dr. Zayed states “I think the next step is to kind of galvanize that support and actually create better habitats in Ontario, and support legislation that kind of protects bees from pesticides and other stressors.”

Beyond legislation, individuals can include native flowering plants or “pollinator gardens” on the land they occupy, participate in programs like the Bumble Bee Watch, and try to support legislation that promotes biodiversity, environmental protection, and more transparency about the chemicals used on public land.”

Dr. Zayed also did a phone interview with Newstalk 1010 and participated in a York University World Bee Day special event titled “Bee the Change”. The recording of this event will be posted here:

A warm welcome to Nathalie, Sheri and Ebadullah!

By , May 9, 2022

This summer, the Zayed lab will be joined by undergraduate students Nathalie Do, Sheri Grach, and Ebadullah Kabir as Research at York (RAY) students. Check out what each of them has to say about their personal and research interests:

” My name is Natalie and I am a 4th year Environmental Biology major. My passion for bees started when I chose to observe generalist pollinators for one of my courses last year (Experimental Design).

I have previously known about the importance of bees and the dangers that they are in but doing such project truly “sealed the deal” for me! They are so cool and I would love to contribute to helping them survive against climate change.”

“My name is Sheri and I am currently starting my third year for biomedical science at York. I am very passionate about health and wellness, and I love being and playing sports outdoors.

I wanted to join Dr. Zayed’s lab as I was a part of STEM Fellowship research before and I was extremely interested researching the genomes of bees and habitats. Dr. Zayed’s lab was the perfect opportunity for that while continuing to expand my knowledge and skills, and I am very grateful for this opportunity.”

“My name is Ebadullah Kabir and I am entering the third year of my Specialized Honours Neuroscience program this coming Fall. I am a big fan of football (the game you play with your feet – so many people call it soccer, I am just not a fan of calling it that way 🙂

I decided to join Dr. Zayed’s lab because I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to broaden the scope of my knowledge and experience in research. Also, hearing that we would work with bees, I did not hesitate – not that I want their honey 🙂 but because they are such smart insects and so dear to me.”

Congratulations to Dr. Bahar Patlar

By , May 2, 2022

Since November of 2021, we’ve welcomed Dr. Bahar Patlar into the Zayed Lab community. Always happy to dive into a deeper understanding when we discuss new publications and ready for have a good laugh, we’ve enjoyed her brief time with us and wish her all the best of luck as she begins her own lab as Principle Investigator at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.

Here’s what Bahar said about her research with us at York University:

“Male reproductive genes, especially one’s coding seminal fluid proteins are known among the most rapidly evolving genes. Thus, they likely accumulate genetic differences between populations at a high rate that may eventually contribute to speciation. During this post-doctoral training led by Prof. Amro Zayed at York University, using the molecular population genetics approach, I investigated the rate of evolution and divergence of drone ejaculate proteins in honeybee Apis mellifera lineages that occur naturally over the vast and varied geographical areas across the world.”

“Since my Master of Science degree projects, I’ve studied male reproductive biology with a wide range of organisms including a non-famous invasive fruit fly Zaprionus tuberculatus, a simultaneous hermaphroditic marine flatworm Macrostomum lignano, and the laboratory all-star Drosophila melanogaster. Now, here at Zayed lab, I met with the incredible world of the honeybee, Apis mellifera.”

“A new chapter in my career will start soon in Germany where I will start my own research group at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. I plan to combine my knowledge from animals with different mating systems to understand more about the evolution of reproductive traits using fruit flies, honeybees, flatworms, and many more to understand the contribution of reproduction to diversity in life.

Congratulations, Bahar!!

The Concrete Jungle is No Place for Bumblebees

By , April 25, 2022

We just love the press that “Bees in the Six” is getting! The latest is “The Concrete Jungle is No Place for Bumblebees” written by Emily Deibert, a PhD student in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto.

Read the article in full here

What I really like about this article is the focus on understanding the implications of urban planning from a bumblebee’s perspective. For example, the tradeoff between foraging distance and colony success, or how different “green” spaces can be in offering suitable resources, like nesting habitat, nectar and pollen.

The article does offer a “bee-friendly plant species” resource to support a transition to a bee-friendly garden space, however, we would like to encourage people to consider locally native species. In the Greater Toronto Area, we suggest native Ontario species. Find out more about Ontario’s native species and purchase them here!

Research Awards Celebration – April 2022

By , April 19, 2022

Congratulations to Amro Zayed! This afternoon, Amro is being recognized and celebrated during the York University Research Awards Celebration April 2022 as a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Genomics.

“Zayed’s research group sequences the genomes of thousands of bees to identify mutations that influence their economically and ecologically relevant traits to improve the health of Canadian honey bees.”

Watch the entire awards ceremony here:

Now published – “Bees in the Six”

By , March 22, 2022

Cities are home to more than just huge populations of people and their altered environments. They can also sustain a large number of native and even at-risk species of bees and other wildlife. “Unfortunately, we currently lack research about specific features of urban environments that can enhance the fitness of pollinators.” – until now!

Genetic analysis of surveyed bees showed that dense infrastructure, like buildings, roads, and other paved surfaces, were associated with greater foraging distances for the the common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) – meaning that they need to fly further for food and can therefore dedicate less energy to raising young. Alternatively, the relative density of houses in Toronto was associated with shorter foraging distances, as they likely provide foraging opportunities in the absence of city parks and watershed forests.

Further, this analysis was unable to associate human income with either bumblebee foraging distance or colony density. Since no evidence of the “luxury effect” in Toronto was found, the benefits of pollination services along with opportunities to observe wild bumblebees and to engage in bumblebee conservation is not restricted to a subset of Toronto’s population.

“Our analysis suggests two simple strategies for improving bumblebee habitat within cities. First, conversion of paved surfaces to functional green space such as parks and meadows is likely to have a significant influence on the quality of pollinator habitats in Toronto. Second, … converting aesthetic green space (i.e., lawns…) into more functional natural green space (e.g., flowering meadows…) can improve the foraging opportunities of bumblebee colonies in Toronto.”

Conflitti et al., 2022

Southern Ontario native plants that would support wild bumblebees and be highly attractive to other native pollinators include: willow (Salix sp.), maple (Acer sp.), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), New England aster (Symphyotrichum novaeangliae), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

Congratulations to Kathryn Galang!

By , March 9, 2022

Kathryn Galang officially earned her Master of Science degree yesterday after passing her thesis presentation.

  • Congratulations on completing your research on “The Neurogenic State of Selfish Versus Altruistic Aggression in Honey Bees”!

Webinar featuring the Zayed Lab’s Kathleen Dogantzis

By , March 8, 2022

York University’s Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, and the Packer Lab are hosting a monthly research series titled “Bee Biogeography and Systematics Talks“.

Kathleen Dogantzis, PhD Researcher in the Zayed Lab, will be diving into her research and interpreting the results on May 25, 2022 @ 11am EST. To find out more about the series and to register for upcoming events, please go to

In addition to her research, Kathleen has also teamed up with Will Cuthbert, an art designer for a submission to the 2022 Winter Stations competition – And they won! Their installation is getting lots of attention, check out one article in Toronto Life. Congratulations Katie!

Award from Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI)

By , February 28, 2022

Congratulations to Amro Zayed for being awarded funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for a research apiary to study honeybee behaviour, genetics and health. The funding will support Zayed by enhancing the capacity to experiment on honeybee colonies to support cutting-edge research on the genetics and health of these important pollinators. The research will lead to better understanding of honeybees and their role in supporting food security and sustainability.

Read more about this award: 

no Twitter with current id

Two new publications from the Zayed Lab!

By , February 11, 2022

We’ve been busy!

Published on January 31 – Phenomic analysis of the honey bee pathogen-web and its dynamics on colony productivity, health and social immunity behaviors found that “colonies expressing high levels of three out of four of the social immunity behaviors studied (hygienic behavior, Varroa resistance behavior and grooming-related mite damage) were associated with low levels of pathogens/parasites, including viruses, Nosema spp., and mites.” This paper was in collaboration with Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, University of Lethbridge, University of Manitoba, Université Laval, and University of British Columbia! Read this open access paper

We also just got word that “Bees in the six: Determinants of bumblebee habitat quality in urban landscapes” is now in press in Ecology and Evolution! This paper is co-authored by current and past Zayed Lab members Ida Conflitti, Mohammad Arshad Imrit, Bandele Morrison and in collaboration with Dr. Sheila R. Colla!

no Twitter with current id