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Citizen Science: How You Can Help Bees

Posted Nov 27 2012 12:39pm

Sunflower Want to help bees? Citizen scientists , we have a job for you. 

The Great Sunflower Project

For those with a fondness for the small and buzzy, the recent decline in honeybee populations is not breaking news. But a dearth of pollinators is everybody's beeswax, since about 1/3 of our food comes from bee-pollinated crops. Honeybees live both in commercial nests and in the wild, where they join hundreds of species of native bees in keeping wild and cultivated plants alive. With no bees, we'd be living in a much less colorful world.

To help track bee populations in urban, suburban, and rural areas, the Great Sunflower Project runs a Backyard Bee Count. They recommend bee-attracting flowers (such as sunflowers), offer bee identification guides, and provide instruction on how to observe and count the bees (both native and introduced) that visit during the blooming season. This provides a nation-wide count on how bees are faring in different environments, so we can learn how to better protect them.

How sweet is that?

Look below to see some of the plants that the Great Sunflower Project recommends for attracting bees.

"Lemon Queen" Sunflowers

Bee Balm Bee Balm (Monarda)

Cosmos Cosmos

TickseedTickseed (Coreopsis)

Coneflower Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)

Bonus: Take Our Bee Quiz !

--by Rachael Monosson / Images by (in order of appearance): iStockphoto/Marbo, iStockphoto/aceshot, iStockphoto/nuiiko, iStockphoto/AviatorTim, iStockphoto/cm1.

This week on the Green Life, we're highlighting four citizen science projects .

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