Who doesn’t love sunflowers? They are one of the ultimate symbols of sunshine and happiness the way they reach their cheery faces to the heavens and stretch their limbs skyward.
Turns out that besides being rays of cheeriness, sunflowers are an important tool for studying honeybee behavior.
The Great Sunflower Project was started in 2008, by Gretchen LuBuhn, a biologist at San Francisco State University who was interested in the migratory habits of our chief pollinator – the bee. The basic principle when the project first took off was to have participants plant the Lemon Queen sunflower (Helianthus annuus) in their yard and then spend a brief period of time, about 15 minutes, observing the sunflower and the number of bee visitors. Your data, including your observations and garden information, is recorded on the Great Sunflower Project website. The project coordinators want to learn what bees are stopping by (not just honeybees) and how often they are coming to the single flower. And, that’s it.
I love that there is a project that is collecting real data about bee population and the participants benefit by enjoying the beauty of the sunflower! If I don’t have hives this year, I am at least gonna have sunflowers!
For updates and to join the Great Sunflower Project – check out their website: