The Great Sunflower Project

Posted on May 11, 2009  Comments (2)

photo of sunflower (Helianthus Annuus Taiyo)Sunflower photo from WikiMedia – Helianthus Annuus ‘Taiyo’

The Great Sunflower Project provides a way for you to engage in the ongoing study of bees and colony collapse disorder. The study uses the annual Lemon Queen sunflowers (Helianthus annuus), that can be grown in a pot on a deck or patio or in a garden (and they will send you seeds).

How do bees make fruits and vegetables?

Bees help flowers make seeds and fruits. Bees go to flowers in your garden to find pollen (the powder on the flower) and nectar which is a sweet liquid. Flowers are really just big signs advertising to bees that there is pollen or nectar available – though sometimes a flower will cheat and have nothing! The markings on a flower guide the bee right into where the pollen or nectar is.

All flowers have pollen. Bees gather pollen to feed their babies which start as eggs and then grow into larvae. It’s the larvae that eat the pollen. Bees use the nectar for energy. When a bee goes to a flower in your garden to get nectar or pollen, they usually pick up pollen from the male part of the flower which is called an anther. When they travel to the next flower looking for food, they move some of that pollen to the female part of the next plant which is called a stigma. Most flowers need pollen to make seeds and fruits.

After landing on the female part, the stigma, the pollen grows down the stigma until it finds an unfertilized seed which is called an ovary. Inside the ovary, a cell from the pollen joins up with cells from the ovary and a seed is born! For many of our garden plants, the only way for them to start a new plant is by growing from a seed Fruits are just the parts of the plants that have the seeds. Some fruits are what we think of as fruits when we are in the grocery store like apples and oranges. Other fruits are vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers and peppers.

Related: Monarch Butterfly MigrationSolving the Mystery of the Vanishing BeesVolunteers busy as bees counting populationThe Science of Gardening

2 Responses to “The Great Sunflower Project”

  1. meenu
    May 26th, 2009 @ 8:29 am

    the post is very informative thx. I think its a great place where kids can learn a lot. I have a 10 year old daughter and i think this site will be very useful for her.

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Backyard scientists Aid Research
    May 26th, 2009 @ 9:16 am

    […] The Great Sunflower Project – Monarch Butterfly Migration by curiouscat   Tags: Life Science, Science, Students […]

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