Much has been written about the current plight of the honeybees. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) as well as various insect and disease problems have caused an estimated one third of the nation’s honeybee colonies to disappear. Theories abound as to what’s causing the problem, including the increasing use of insecticides and herbicides, electromagnetic radiation from communication towers, and even global warming. Whatever the cause(s) of CCD, we can all do our part to help by planting flowers and trees that bees like to visit, and by using garden chemicals responsibly (or not at all).
We can also help the bees by participating in The Great Sunflower Project, which is “a community science project with the goal of increasing our understanding of where bees are doing poorly and how the pollination of our garden and wild plants are being affected”. Gretchen LeBuhn, Associate Professor at San Francisco State University is heading up this project.
Gardeners everywhere are encouraged to participate by growing annual Lemon Queen sunflowers, and then recording data on how many bees visit the sunflowers. Details are on the project website. The information collected will give the researchers an index of pollination that they can compare across the United States, and help them to pinpoint where bees are most in trouble. The seeds for this sunflower variety are widely available, including from these sources. I will be participating next year. Anything I can do to help the bees will be time well spent.
For fun, here’s a little video that is guaranteed to get you to “Do The Honeybee”.