The science behind the Project
How you can make a difference
Find out how you can become a Citizen Scientist
Get your questions answered here
This information is coming to you directly from the folks at
How you can make a difference
The food you grow in your home garden and that are grown in gardens around the world help people make ends meet in a healthy, sustainable way. Many plants can't set fruit until they have been visited by a bee.
We know that some bees have had severe declines which may be affecting food production. No one has ever measured how much pollination is happening over a region, much less a continent so, we don't know anything about how these declines in bees influence gardens.
Our project is going to use data collected by people like you to produce the first real map of the state of the bees. The only way to do this is to get as many people as possible collecting information from as many places as possible. You can help. Join us! Plant a sunflower! Tell a friend!
We've made it easy. Plant a seed or two, spend 15 minutes watching your flowers twice a month and send or input your data. Plant, Watch, Type. That's it. And, who doesn't like sunflowers...
How will the Great Sunflower Project Help?
Your home, school or community garden and those around the world produce roughly 15-20% of all the food we eat. And for the urban poor, who spend 50-70% of their income on food, these gardens are a real source of good nutrition and an essential route to food security.
Whether your garden contains vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, or even medicinal plants, many of these plants must be pollinated before a fruit forms. And as the headlines for the last year have made clear, bees are under threat. Here is a link to information about some of our bees in peril.
We know very little about bee activity in home and community gardens and their surrounding environments, but we are certain that they are a crucial link in the survival of native habitats and local produce, not to mention our beautiful urban gardens. Our local pollinator populations require our understanding & protection, and to answer that call we need to determine where and when they are at work.
With enough citizen scientists collecting data, we can learn much more, much faster, about the current state of bee activity. We would love to have you join us; let’s learn about pollinators together!
Busy honeybees, fat bumblebees, green Agepostemon shining like jewels, and tiny Mason bees the size of a rice grain. They are fascinating to watch while they are working so hard to pollinate the flowers, fruit and vegetables that are the measure of a garden’s success. Unfortunately, these hard working pollinators are declining in some areas. We are relying on you to help us discover where.
But, have you ever wondered what you could do to help? How you can attract more bees?
You can help by giving bees in your garden the same benefits that they get in the wild. Healthy natural environments are hardy and resilient because of the diversity of flowers, plants and fungi that make up a balanced ecosystem. You can replicate that wild hardiness in your garden by planting a greater diversity of plants and flowers. Did you know that gardens with 10 or more species of attractive plants attracted the largest number of bees (1)?
Your tomato plants look great next to the sunflowers, but why not tuck in some colorful cosmos and a flowering basil plant to complete the picture? Greater diversity takes your garden up a notch. It not only showcases your garden’s abundance, but provides critical food and habitat for bees – just like they are used to in wild environments. We can help you plan your bee-friendly garden this year. Here’s how:
Start with ‘Lemon Queen’ sunflowers, of course. These are our observation plant of choice and you’re going to want to use them for your observations again this year.
Now, add some season-extending bee-friendly flowers and herbs that provide beauty and color for you and much-needed shelter and forage for our pollinators. Here are some “wildly attractive” bee plants:
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan)
Tithonia 'Torch' (Mexican Sunflower)
Visit the Building a Bee garden resource page to learn more.
"Bee curious" links:
Back to main page: