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Saturday, February 07th, 2009 | Author:


This snapshot of Colony Collapse Disorder news stories comes from 2007. It’s been the only Colony Collapse Disorder news .kml file on the Net for a long time. Why is that?… It’s become stale, some of the original website source links are broken, but the the summaries exist and it’s interesting none the less. David Grogan was a student at Tufts University when he manually created this map using RSS and google. I’m working on an updated version that automagically updates the map with new stories from google news, similar to how www.healthmap.org works.

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Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 | Author:

Happy New Year! I’m not near my hives, though I checked on my New York hives and they were looking cozy, thanks to a little insulation efforts on the top of the hive to keep out moisture. (Thanks, Sam). I’m reposting here the posting from Gretchen LeBuhn, the magical being behind the The Great Sunflower Project.



Dear Sunflower Participants,

*Happy Holidays! *

I want to thank you so much for your support and participation in The Great Sun Flower Project. Together, we have launched one of the most ambitious citizen science projects ever attempted, all to help understand what is happening to our bee pollinators. Over the past twelve months, we have had over *40,000* people sign up to participate. All 50 states, all provinces and all territories in Canada are represented. We have also had a great deal of international interest in expanding the project. (I’ve been overwhelmed by this response and touched by your enthusiasm and different perspectives on pollinators.) We have grown a ‘virtual’ community of teachers, community gardeners, nature center staff, beekeepers, pollinator enthusiasts, retirees, home schooling groups and parents interested in participating in a project with their children. If everyone plants seeds this year, we will have sunflower samples from the Arctic Circle to the tip of Florida and west to Hawaii and east to Puerto Rico! You can see a map with about 25,000 of the locations on the website.

*Results from this year.* While we are still entering the data sheets that were sent by mail, below are some preliminary numbers. (If you did mail in your bee information, please make sure to enter your garden description information online.)

We have data from just under 1200 different gardens. About 20% of the participants did not see any bees on their sunflower within our 30 minute limit! Please note that negative data are very important to our study – so if you did not see any bees, do not be discouraged. This is a very important observation. Based on what we’ve analyzed so far, 1 in 5 gardens appear to have low pollinator service. Slightly fewer than 50% of our gardeners saw 5 bees. Sarah Greenleaf and Claire Kremen researched how many seeds are produced per honey bee visit, and found that when honey bees are by themselves, 3 seeds are produced per visit. However, if native bees are also there, up to 15 seeds might result from a single visit. Native bee visits result in anything from 1 to 19 seeds per visit depending on the species. What this means is that if you have 5 bee visits per hour from 9-5 pm (bees tend to work banker’s hours!), your sunflower plant will produce between 120 and 600 seeds. That sounds pretty good until you realize that there might be 10 flowers that are each capable of producing from 800-2000 seeds. The flowers would have to last for almost two weeks each to be completely pollinated. We are finding a lot of un-pollinated flowers in the flower heads that you have sent. All these insights add up to the suggestion that many gardens are not as productive as they could be because they do not have adequate pollination.

If you want to see how your garden did relatively consider that 46% of our gardeners saw at least 5 bees in 30 minutes; 51% saw at least 4 bees in 30 minutes; 59% saw at least 3 bees and 70% saw at least 2 bees and 79% saw at least 1 bee. As we analyze more data, I’ll post more results. *New collaborations!* Last year we partnered with the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the New York City Parks department and coordinated planting flowers in all of San Francisco’s public urban gardens with SFGRO. This upcoming year, using sunflowers as the link, we will be collaborating with the National Phenology Network (http://www.usanpn.org ) tracking how sunflowers and bees are responding to climate change and Discover Life (www.discoverlife.org) which will allow us to create an online collection of digital photographs of the insects on our sunflowers. Most importantly, we have a new partnership with Cornell called the Birds and Bees Challenge. The goal of The Birds and the Bees Challenge is to help young people between the ages of 7 and 17 rediscover nature in their own neighborhoods and become amateur naturalists, scientists, photographers, and artists. The Birds and the Bees Challenge is focused on bringing art and science to schools, after-school programs, churches, rehabilitation and recovery agencies, businesses, museums, nature centers, and parks across the United States. The majority of these participating agencies (80%) reach ethnically and culturally diverse groups as well as economically disadvantaged audiences. This project is one of 30 projects endorsed by the Forum on Children and Nature (http://www.forumonchildrenandnature.org/), a group that developed to respond to the nature deficit disorder written about in Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods.”

*Plans for next year.* We expect to send an email out in late January asking everyone to confirm their addresses (we had a lot of letters with seed packets sent back last year). We’ll also ask you to fill out some preliminary information about your garden. We are working with Renee Shepherd of Renee’s Garden seeds and will be using Lemon Queen sunflowers (the annuals, not the perennials) this year. They are wonderful and germinate readily!! We will send out seeds in late March or early April to everyone who is on our list. (We will send out later mailings.) We are also planning to expand the plant list to include a couple of common perennials that people indicated were important bee plants in their gardens. I’ll send more information out about these this spring.

I am committed to supplying free seeds again this year, making participation accessible to everyone who’s interested, and to growing our collaborations and impact, but we need funds to support mailing seeds, maintain the website, and analyze and visualize the data. If you have the ability to help us fund the Great Sunflower Project, we would be very grateful. Donations can be made either
* online at: https://www.applyweb.com/public/contribute?s=sfusceng (please write “Sunflower” in the “Other” box)
* or by mail at: Great Sunflower Project, Dept. of Biology, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132.

In these unpredictable times, the role that pollinators play in our lives is more important than ever. With your continued support and participation, we can begin to determine where pollinators are declining and develop conservation strategies.

If you have suggestions about improving the project, we’ve set up a forum on the website to discuss ideas! Please give us your best advice. Once again, thank you for your support and “bee” well.

Happy Holidays!

Gretchen LeBuhn
Queen Bee

p.s. Pollinators and holidays: Here is a list of some of our holiday foods that are dependent on insect pollinators: pumpkins, apples, walnuts, pecans, apricots, avocado, bean, beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cashew, cauliflower, cherries, chestnuts, chocolate, clove, oranges, grapefruits, coffee, cranberry, date, fig, nutmeg, olive, parsnip, pear, pomegranate, and squash.