The Great Sunflower Project
Many studies have been done on our agricultural bee populations and in recent times the commercial beekeepers have experienced colony collapse. What scientists had not studied on a large scale was how the wild bees were doing and what effect that has on pollination of garden plants, crops and wild plants.
In 2008, we started this project as a way to gather information about our urban, suburban and rural bee populations. We wanted to enlist people all over the US and Canada to observe their bees and be citizen scientists. We asked them to plant sunflowers in their gardens so we could standardize study of bee activity and provide more resources for bees. Sunflowers are relatively easy to grow and are wildly attactive to bees. Since 2008, we have expanded the list of plants studied to include Bee balm, Cosmos, Rosemary, Tickseed, and Purple coneflower.
So far we've found that the on average our gardeners are likely to see a bee pollinate every 2.6 minutes. Surprisingly, over 20% of our gardens never saw a bee! We want to thank all of our citizen scientists for being our observers.
You can participate by getting annual Lemon Queen sunflower seeds from us, at your local store or through one of these seed sellers. The instructions are here. Do join us! It takes less than 15 minutes.