A San Francisco State University scientist conducting a study on bee pollination is seeking participants across the country to plant sunflowers and observe bees attracted to the flowers.
The Great Sunflower Project, run by Gretchen LeBuhn, associate professor of biology at the university, will provide participants a kit with data forms to report bee patterns, a gardening guide, species information and a packet of sunflower seeds.
Participants are then asked to plant the sunflowers and record the number and kinds of bees attracted to the flowers, according to organizers. Participating will take no more than 30 minutes twice monthly, organizers added.
"We need to know where bees are pollinating well and how parks, gardens, natural areas and all sorts of habitats affect our bees," Ms. LeBuhn said in a prepared statement. "It will be interesting to see what and how environmental factors may affect native bee populations."
Sunflower project organizers hope to solicit participants residing in different settings, so researchers can observe bee behavior in urban, suburban, and rural areas, officials said. San Francisco state biologists will also keep track of bee activity around sunflowers planted on campus.
With a $4,000 grant from the university, the project has created 10,000 kits, available in English, Spanish and Mandarin, that are ready to send out to those who request them online.
"Having healthy pollinators is important for both natural systems and our food supply," said Ms. LeBuhn, who is seeking additional funding to create more kits.
Great Sunflower Project kits are available online at http://www.greatsunflower.org/ or by calling (415) 847-1716.