Pollinating bee study seeks participants

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 or by calling (415) 847-1716.


Like this comment
Posted by j thompson
a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2008 at 10:08 pm

I think I may have done incorrectly the first time
I am the chairman for the Bennett Valley Grange Picnic in Santa Rosa. We are one of the oldest granges in the United States since 1873 having never missed a meeting and in the oldest original building in the United States. We have had an annual picnic in June since 1873. We were looking for a theme and from Summer Solstice got to Sunflowers and the problems with the bees and the importance of recognized the problems.
We have around 150 to 200 people come to our picnic in June. Could we start planting seeds now and give them each several to plant in June and record what happens.? If only 1/4 followed thru it might be an advantaged. We are having a meeting Monday night.
I just got this idea. We need to address the theme tonight. We can purchase the seeds needed and start them in containers. If you have any response please let me know.
Jocelyn Thompson
4050 Sonoma Mountain Rd
Bennett Valley
Santa Rosa, Ca 95404

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