Thanks to your help, the Great Bee Count and Bee-a-thon on July 16th were a resounding success. Throughout the day, Great Sunflower Project participants all over the country took time to make a 15-minute observation. Meanwhile, hundreds tuned in to the worldwide online webcast to learn the latest information about bee conservation.
On that day alone, we had 10 times more observers entering data than on any other single day since the start of the Project. We also had a record count, 30 bees in a 15 minute sample! Well done! Let’s keep up the momentum and try to sample every two weeks or even more often. You can dead head your sunflowers to make them bloom longer.
Check out our “Leader Board” on the homepage of the Great Sunflower Project website (www.greatsunflower.org) to see our top data collectors. We’ll update this each week, so you have a chance to get your name on the board.
We know that some of you were unable to participate because you did not have sunflowers in bloom yet by our July 16th date. Don’t despair! You can start as soon as you do have flowers and join us on Saturday, AUGUST 20th for a “Return of the Great Bee Count.” (And another chance to get your name on the Leader Board.)
Others of you were unable to observe and report because you don’t have access to sunflowers. We are hoping, with your help, to provide a solution. If *any* of you know of a garden in your area that is accessible to the public where those without flowers can count bees on Lemon queen sunflowers, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ve set up a page to keep track of them.
There are so many different types of bees to observe. One of our favorite groups of bees of summer are the Agapostemon, a genus of Sweat Bees. These are strikingly colored metallic green or blue bees; medium sized, 0.3 to 0.6 inches (7 to 14.5 mm) long. Most species have a bright metallic green head and thorax, and a black-and-yellow striped abdomen; some females are entirely bright green or blue. They carry their pollen on their hind legs. Agapostemon are generalists and use many different types of flowers. However, like other members of the family Halictidae, they are short-tongued and thus have difficulty extracting nectar from deep flowers. Agapostemon dig deep vertical burrows in flat or sloping soil, or sometimes in banks. Most species are solitary, but some species nest communally. Up to two dozen females may share a single nest entrance, but each individual builds and provisions its own cluster of brood cells. Where a set of females share a single entrance to their nests, one bee usually guards the hole, with only her head visible from above ground.
Remember: Bees are declining in certain areas, and the more we know about pollinator service in your area, the more action will be able to be taken to preserve and enhance pollinator habitat.
Deepest thanks for your work so far this summer. Looking forward to enjoying nature’s benefits with you in the future we help to create.