March 13, 2009

The Great Sunflower Project

There's been a lot of discussion in the last few years about the disappearance of bees. Because our food supply relies so heavily on pollination by our tiny friends, this situation is serious. The Great Sunflower Project aims to help scientists track bee populations by enlisting citizen scientists (you) and lemon queen sunflowers.

Here's the buzz (honestly, you knew that would have to creep in here somewhere). There are four easy steps:

Register yourself and describe your location here. You will receive a packet of lemon queen sunflower seeds -- organizers plan to start shipping this month -- to plant in your newly registered space.

Plant your seeds. If you don't have a garden, no problem. Lemon queen sunflowers can be grown in pots on a deck or patio.

Observe bees. Twice a month the GSP will ask you to spend a bit of time bonding with your sunflower and recording how long it takes for five bees to visit your plant. This won't take more than 30 minutes because if you don't have five bees in 30 minutes the project wants to know.

Submit your data online. Easy.

I can't think of a more pleasant way to celebrate summer and do a community service project at the same time.

Image: courtesy of Ginny Stibolt

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