The Great Bee Count of 2011

Honeybee on lavender flower

Honeybee on lavender flower

The day has arrived – so go out to your yards and gardens and begin …. counting bees!  The Great Sunflower Project  was launched in 2008 to get information about urban, suburban and rural bee populations.  The Project also wanted to educate people about what was happening with the bees in their back yards, and to remind us of how important bees are — their motto is: “Bees: Responsible for Every Third Bite of Food.”   So they got people all over the world to observe their bees on Lemon Queen sunflowers, because sunflowers are relatively easy to grow and a great resource for bees. They expanded the list of plants, including bee balm, cosmos, rosemary, tickseed, goldenrod and purple coneflower.  But even if you don’t have any of those plants in your garden (yet — lots of time to prepare for next year!) you can still count.  The bees that come to our garden love the lavender, and I had a blast earlier this week taking photos of them.

Bumble bee on soap plant flower

Bumble bee on soap plant flower

The bumble bees also love the soap plant flowers (Chlorogalum pomeridianum), tiny, spiky flowers that bloom only in the evening. The flowers are only about an inch around, so watching the relatively large bumble bees (compared to honeybees) grab onto the delicate flowers, making them bounce and wave, is very entertaining.


The steps to participate in the Project are listed on their site, with links.  All you have to do:  sign up and plant your sunflower (or other plant); describe your garden; watch the plant for 15 minutes and enter the data online. With colony collapse disorder, pesticides, and other threats to the hardest-working pollinators, every little bit helps —

Even if you don’t have any of the listed plants yet, why not go outside and do the count anyway? It would be a good baseline to compare with the number you get next year, when you’ve filled your garden with plants to help the bees.  And let me know what you find!

Lavender and rust art quilt

George found some wonderful french lavender and has been growing it for me in the back garden.  I took some photographs of the stalks in bloom.  Lavender’s not the showiest flower, but the scent and that incredible saturated color really make up for that …

Lavender in bloom

Lavender in bloom

Later in the day we went on an adventure, and I took some photos of an old piece of rusted machinery.  The images were so different I couldn’t resist trying to blend them, and came up with a blended collage that I really like:

Lavender and rust

Lavender and rust

I printed the image onto pretreated cotton.  I was very happy — the colors turned out beautifully saturated, very true to the original file.  I backed the printed fabric with two layers of batting and quilted with different colored thread, mostly at random, outlining the elements of the image. The sturdiness of the cotton and two layers of batting make the quilting really stand out.  The piece is only about 7.5 x 11.25 inches (18.5 x 28.25 cm).  I’m thinking of framing it within a wood frame that I’ll adorn. More later about that. For now, here’s a photograph of the quilted piece:

Lavender and rust art quilt

Lavender and rust art quilt

This is fun. The sun was streaming in my window as I was taking photographs of the quilt, so I taped it to the window and shot some photos — you can see the sun shining through the needle holes.

Here’s one last shot of a part of the quilt, you can really see the sun shining through it…

DSC_0064 smallNow the hard part for me, how to frame it. Stay tuned …..