Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sunflowers and Bees

I don't know even where to begin to tell you about the changes in the garden over the six days that I was gone, so I'll start with something small. My Lemon Queen sunflower has started to bloom. If you remember from way back when, I had so much trouble getting this seed to germinate. I finally ended up with a solitary plant.

The Lemon Queen is important to me because I've been trying to participate in the Great Sunflower Project, which is a research project studying bees. Last year I never received the seed. This year it was touch and go if I would have any plants at all. But I succeeded getting my one plant to adulthood.

I stood next to the flower chosen and counted all the bees that visited in 15 minutes. None visited this flower or the other flower on the plant. Several bees visited the Music Box sunflowers and the tithonia that grow nearer to the ground, but nothing on my tall plant. I was wondering if I would find one or not. I do occasionally see bees on it, but my bee population is much lower than it was last year. I think the cool June was as hard on my bees as it was on my plants.


  1. Oh I love that sunflower!! Lemon Queen is the appropriate name for her.

  2. Great shots and what a beautiful day it was when you took them. My lemon queen is still not blooming but I have a couple stems with buds on them. Shouldn't be long now with all the heat & humidity we are getting recently. I have not seen many honey bees in the garden this year, lots of bumble bees & solitary bees though.

  3. I love sunflowers. I signed up for the Sunflower Project & got my seeds but I never planted them.

    Where did you plant yours?

  4. What a gorgeous flower, it makes everyone happy! I missed the Texas wild sunflowers.

  5. The sunlight streaming through the petals is so pretty.

  6. I have heard and read that honeybees have been in decline for the past few years, because of weather and diseases. The possible effects on ecosystems are scary.

    I'm glad that your lemon queen made it, though. It's a beautiful shade of yellow.

  7. How funny...I'm doing the same thing with the Great Sunflower Project. I've got 3 plants and didn't see any bees on them last weekend.

  8. Love sunflowers!!! Mine are blooming too!

  9. MissyM, I didn't look it up before I planted it. I had no idea it would be pastel yellow. It is pretty though.

    Dan, I mostly have bumble bees too, but even they are in shorter supply this year. I think the cold weather in June was hard on them. I'm not sure if it was the cold itself or all the delayed blooms.

    selina, Mine are in my cutting garden right by the potatoes. I call it the cutting garden, but I haven't cut anything from it this year.

    vuejardin, I have relatives in the Sunflower State so I get to see wild sunflowers whenever I visit. They grow much better out there than in our wet climate.

    jain, thanks.

    Sally, Well honey bees are imports to the US, so they aren't particularly natural to our area. Though I suppose at this point our ecosystem has changed enough that it would be bad to lose them. For us and our crops it would be a disaster.

    Jackie, I just hope I see bees on them next time. It feels so much like a failure not to have bees.

    Toni, thanks.

  10. We had a very low bee year last year - it was a cool and rainy summer for us last year. This year it has been a more normal summer and the bee population is rebounding some what. It is still not as robust as it used to be - but there is definitely more of them this year than last.

    The yellow sunflower is a charming plant and regardless of your bee counting experience, it is a nice addition to the garden to have this sunny face included.

  11. Having sole survivor in the garden is not easy on us ... I just hope that sunflower is not over pampered, because I have two in the garden now, one eggplant and one sunflower. Cheers, ~bangchik

  12. Those 'Lemon Queens' are gorgeous, Daphne! Thanks for sharing them!

  13. It seems to me that I have more bees this year. Last year I had such trouble with cucumber and sunflower pollination. No problems this year. I seem to see more of all types of bees.

    I also see more flowers at the community garden and around houses this year. I think interest in gardening is increasing. This has to be good for the bees.

    I have a good variety of all kinds of bees; honey bees green metallics, bumbles, little bees etc. And more hummingbirds.

    Good luck with your sunflowers.

  14. kitsapFG, I do love its tall sunny face. I have a split level and on the first floor I can see it out the window really well. From the garden I have to crane my neck, but from inside it is easy to see.

    Bangchik, no I don't pamper it at all. Well I did give it a compost mulch, but I did that to most of the garden this year.

    our friend Ben, your welcome.

    Kathy, hmm it must be something other than the weather then since you get the same weather I do. Or maybe your increase in flowers is the reason your population hasn't gone down. I haven't seen much of an increase in gardening in my neighborhood. I've seen it in other places but not around me.