Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bees and Almonds

Summer is here and the bees are buzzing. I am glad to hear bees, because almonds are my favorite nut. What do bees and almonds have to do with each other? According to Beespotter, one hundred percent of the almond crop is pollinated by bees. That means if there are no bees, there will be no almonds. What would my Hershey's with Almonds be without the almonds? Not nearly as good, that's for sure.

Beespotter is a website created by University of Illinois researchers to encourage citizen-scientists (in other words, you and me) to collect information about the bee population. Taking pictures of bees, instead of using the pin and display board of my childhood, allows preservation of living bee diversity. Here is an example of a bee spotted on June 3, 2011 in Chicago.

The Great Sunflower Project is also gathering information for a bee census. This site includes a list of flowers, including sunflowers, zinnias and other easy to grow flowers that you can plant to attract bees to add the project's map of bee sightings.

The Feral Bee Project
is collecting information as well. The project hopes to encourage beekeepers and citizens to enter the locations of wild honey bee hives. The site includes information on beelining, which is a way to find wild bee colonies.

The Hive Detectives by Loree Griffin Burns is an awarding winning book with lots of fascinating photos. The author writes about a real-life mystery, Colony Collapse Disorder, which threatens the honey bee population.

So the next time you hear an ominous buzz, run for your camera to help advance this scientific project. Let us know what you learn.

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