Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm Hunting for Bees! The Great Sunflower Project

It seems as though everything in my garden has gone a bit haywire...our corn is 10 feet tall and I kid you not, our tomato plants are over 6 feet!  We have tons of green tomatoes and are just hoping that we'll get our late warm summer days in September and they'll ripen.

It's taken forever, but my sunflowers have finally bloomed!  And just in time - tomorrow is The Return of The Great Bee Count!  This is my second year participating in The Great Sunflower Project, a study put on by San Francisco State University.  Started in 2008, the project has enlisted people from all over the world to observe their bees on Lemon Queen sunflowers, with seeds provided by Renee's Garden.  Because it's been found that both honey bee and native bee populations are in trouble, this project was started as a way to gather information about our urban, suburban and rural bee populations.

Here's how it works.  I will sit in a comfy chair with a notepad in my lap and for 30 minutes I will watch. my. sunflower.  And I will carefully take notes.  I will count bees.  I know this sounds simple, but as I tend to do, I stress out about doing it right.  My instructions seem simple:  as a bee lands, I note the time, then keep an eye on him because I also need to note what time he leaves.  Perhaps you can understand how complications can arise when a second and third bee arrive, my cat jumps on my lap and the phone rings.  

I am told that I should see a bee pollinate about every 2.6 minutes. If I do a count and see more than 3 bees in 15 minutes, my garden is doing better than average (I will be so proud).  If I see fewer than 3 bees in 15 minutes it will mean that my garden has "low pollinator service" (how embarrassing).  All kidding aside, according to the study over 20% of the gardeners in last year's count never saw a bee!  That's not good. So wish me luck, and if you'd like to participate next year, you can join in here.

1 comment:

  1. how interesting! I have heard of counting the birds in your backyard, but not the bees. Makes sense tho):) I have tons of green tomatoes too!!