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.
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!