Gretchen LeBuhn: We're sitting at a pollinator garden on San Francisco State's campus, and this is a wonderful resource for bees. Right now, it's really early in the spring but you can see that we've planted it with a bunch of early-season species that have flowers and resources for bees. In particular, you can notice that there are purple, yellow and white colored flowers here. Bees actually see in the UV, so these are colors that they visually pick up better than flowers that are in the reds. We have a mix here of native species like this orange California poppy and some non-natives here that still provide some good resources for the bees.
The important thing about this garden is that we have flowers all season long -- it goes from spring into fall, and here in California we actually are lucky enough that we can have flowers all through the winter.
You can also see that there are a bunch different shapes and sizes of flowers, and that will accommodate a diversity of different bees -- not just our honey bees which are generalists, but some of the specialist bees that reside here in California.
We have "cup" flowers, we have flowers that have a little more closed shape that are a little more difficult to get in. With bees you never know exactly which plants are going to do the best for the community that you have. One of the things you can do with your garden is actually watch different plants and see which are most important for the bee community that is there.
In addition to sunflowers for the Great Sunflower Project, we have a set of other species that you can collect data from. Those are other plants that we know that are good bee plants that you can plant in your garden.
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