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!

Blooms and bees

My husband and I have a running joke – when the weather’s bad, we’ll look at each other and say plaintively: “When will it be April?”  Well, guess what George – we survived the rain, hail and cold … it’s April!  And here are some of the treats that April has brought…

Wisteria flowers blooming

Wisteria flowers blooming

Ahhhh … the wisteria tree is blooming in the back garden … one of my all-time favorite flowers.  Too bad you can’t smell it – it has a delicious light scent to go along with that incredible color.

Pterostylis orchid

Pterostylis orchid

You know George is an orchid wizard.  This is one of many orchids he has blooming right now, a Pterostylis.  The flower is small, a bit more than a half inch.

Laelia anceps orchid

Laelia anceps orchid

Another orchid — this one’s a Laelia Anceps, much larger than the Pterostylis, it has multiple flowers on long stalks.

Honeybee

Honeybee

April is good to the hardworking pollinators.   They’re usually so busy flying around that it’s hard to get a good closeup photograph of them, but I managed to get one shot of her when she landed for a moment on my leg.

Honeybee with pollen

Honeybee with pollen

Here’s one laden with pollen!  Got to get out to the garden now to see what else is blooming.  What’s happening in your garden? Let us know in the comments!