Friday, June 12, 2015


Next week is National Pollinator Week. It's a perfect time to go bee-watching. Bee-watching is a lot like bird-watching except you don't need binoculars, and you can get closer to bees than you can to birds. But not too close!

  • How do the bees in your neighborhood sound? Listen carefully and soon you'll be able to tell whether it's a honey bee or a bumble bee or some other kind of bee flying around you. Even different kinds of bumble bees hum at different pitches.
  • Draw pictures of the different kinds of bees you have in your yard or neighborhood - even vacant lots with lots of weeds will have bees to watch. Color them so you can remember if this one was the shiny green bee or the dark black bee. Jot down some notes too: is it bigger than your thumb? Smaller than your pinkie nail?
  • Follow a bee around. Bumble bees are the best because they don't care if you give them some room. Plus they're slow. What color of flowers does your bee visit? How long does she stay on one flower? If you have a watch with a second hand, you can time her. How many flowers does she visit before she flies away home? And are they close together or in a line?
  • What happens if another bee - or a large moth or hummingbird - visits the same flower? Does your bee stay or leave?
Count bees for science! Become a bee-watcher for the Great Sunflower Project.  Let part of your lawn grow a bit wild so the weeds can produce flowers to feed the bees. Or, if you have room, plant some flowers for the bees. All you need are a few containers on a patio or rooftop or balcony...

Wild bees like:
  • Aster
  • Bee balm
  • Bellflower
  • Bleeding heart
  • Borage
  • Chives
  • Coreopsis
  • Cosmos
  • Daffodil
  • Dandelion
  • Geraniums
  • Goldenrod
  • Hyssop
  • Joe-pye weed
  • Lemon balm
  • Milkweed
  • Mints
  • Mullein
  • Oregano
  • Poppy
  • Purple coneflower
  • Roses
  • Sage
  • Sunflower
  • Thyme
  • Violet
  • Yarrow
  • Zinnia


  1. Really enjoy your posts! Heather Holm's book has me looking at pollinators in a whole new perspective. Colleen

  2. Thanks for this post, Sue. Maybe I can get my grandkids to work on some of these ideas.