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Bee study creating a buzz

FROM WIRE REPORTS Published: April 27, 2009
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The Great Sunflower Project, a study on bee pollination in Canada and the U.S., is looking for thousands of citizen scientists for its second year of data collection.

Last year, 1,200 volunteers across the United States and Canada planted sunflowers and recorded the bee species and frequency of visits. This year, project organizers hope to involve 100,000 volunteers. Resulting data, which will be stored at San Francisco State University, will be used to analyze the health of bee populations in North America.

It is the first coast-to-coast study on bee populations. Data collection in 2008 involved public school classes, gardening clubs, civic groups, nature museums and gardeners from cities, rural areas and suburbs who planted a total of 25,000 sunflowers. Of 4,000 total bee sightings reported, 60 percent were honeybees and 30 percent bumblebees.

"We want to find out which populations are thriving and which are not,” said Dr. Gretchen LeBuhn, an associate professor of biology at San Francisco State and the Sunflower Project’s Queen Bee.