Thursday, May 10, 2012
Plan Bee: The Backyard Bee Count
I just love sunflowers and every year I try a new variety in my garden for a little height and a pop of color. Last year I picked up some Lemon Queen seed by chance and ended up finding my favorite variety. Not only was it a sweet pale yellow but I noted that bees were all a buzz over it! So, as I am reading this month's issue of Organic Gardening on Sunflowers (its in the print edition - not the web) they just happen to list Lemon Queen and mention that bees love it so much that it was selected as the test flower for the Backyard Bee Count. Curious, I searched for it and found a really neat project that began in 2008 involving a nation of backyard gardeners. Developed to better understand where the bees are as many have fallen ill, the project uses Lemon Queen sunflowers (and a few other bee attractors like bees balm). Amateur gardeners study the growth of their blooms and track how many bees visit a bloom during 15 minute intervals, then input this online to be complied with other gardens. Lemon Queen is a great choice for this project because it has so much pollen (some varieties were developed for the floral trade and do not produce pollen) also, by everyone using the same plant, its easier to compare apples to apples. I immediately signed up as I had, by chance, planted my seeds 2 weeks earlier; I think I might get a few more packs and rotate them through the summer as they have a quick cycle. I'll post my numbers in a few weeks when I get my first blooms!
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