4 bees at once!
Photo by Ginny Stibolt
Collecting data is simple.
Twice per month, we will send you an email giving you the preferred sampling weekend. If you can't watch your sunflower on one of those days, try to pick a warm, sunny day within a week of that weekend.
Between 10 and 12 on Saturday or Sunday (or the day you pick), check the temperature and write it down. Then, grab a cup of your favorite warm beverage (bees pollinate coffee!!), a chair, a data sheet and pencil and a stop watch or clock. Set up your chair so that you can see your sunflower plant but are far enough away that you won't scare the bees. Focus on one sunflower plant. Count the number of open flowers on the plant. Only count younger flowers that still have pollen or nectar (you can touch the center of the flower to see if there is pollen). Once you are settled, start timing and write down how long it takes for the first five bees to arrive at your sunflower. After 15 minutes, you can stop. If you haven't seen 5 bees by then, we want to know! You probably have some of our most important data.
We would prefer to have a time for each bee. So, let's say you start your stopwatch right at 10:00. The first bee arrives at 10:01. You would write down 10:01. The second bee arrives at 10:07. You would write down 10:07. The third bee and fourth bee arrive together at 10:09. You would write down 10:09 for both bees. The fifth bee arrives at 10:10. You would write down 10:10. That's IT!! You then take your data to the computer, login and use our easy pull down system to let us know what you saw. I want to emphasize, that the MOST IMPORTANT RESULTS are the places where you don't see five bees, especially those that don't see any bees. This is important because these are the places that bees might need help. One of our main goals is figuring out where bees are in trouble. If you are not seeing them, we need to know!!
So, if you started timing and your sunflower looked like the one at the top of the page, you'd have 4 bees that all had the same time of 0 seconds and minutes. You just have to wait for one more bee to arrive. Drink that coffee quickly!
Seeing very few or no bees is the MOST IMPORTANT DATA that you could get.
Now, if you want to get fancier, you can try to identify your bees. Given the prevalence of Colony collapse disorder in Honey bees and the suggestion that Bumble bees are struggling, we are especially interested in getting information on those groups. If you can tell those two, after looking at our guide, please let us know which of your bees were honey bees, carpenter bees, green metallic bees, or bumble bees. If they all look the same to you, just call them "Don't know" bees. We're very happy with those data!