I’ve written other posts that talk about plants you should add to your yard to attract and support bees, but never have I seen anything like this!
We planted a sunflower field on our land this spring and opened a U-Pick section of our farm where people can come and cut a bouquet, visit with our animals and watch the sunset surrounded by a meadow of yellow.
We planted 5 varieties of sunflower this year totaling in 16,000 seeds: Giant Primrose (yellow with dark brown center), Velvet Queen (rust), Irish Eyes (a short variety, bright yellow with a yellow-green center), Lemon Queen (pale yellow with a dark brown center) and a few Mammoth sizes for seeds and fun!
The field covers about a ¼ acre with plans to expand next year.
Of the 16,000 seeds, 5000 were Lemon Queen and it was one of the last flowers to bloom. We noticed earlier in the season, as the other varieties started to open up, we had an increase in bees. Every morning as I’d go out to the field I’d take my camera and snap a few shots of the bees enjoying the blossoms.
It made me smile knowing that not only were we benefiting from this unique business venture, but that we were helping bees as well.
And then the Lemon Queen opened.
The few scattered bees that I’d see on the other varieties were a mere trickle compared to the ocean of pollinators drawn to the Lemon Queen.
The field is literally humming. You can hear it 10-15 feet away as you approach the flowers. It’s a cacophony of different buzzing noises. The low hum of the Bumble Bee, the higher pitch whine of the Honey Bee, tiny Sweat Bees and Mason Bees…
The field is also flickering with color as a variety of butterflies and even a few hummingbirds have made their appearance.
Now that some of the older sunflowers are developing mature seeds, the goldfinch is starting to take advantage of this available food. The yellow little bird looks as though one of the sunflowers has left its stem in flight.
As a bee keeper, to witness this is truly amazing. I often see 3 to five different bees on a single blossom, their legs packed with yellow pollen and their plump little bodies dotting the blue sky above.
Some of our customers, however have been a little apprehensive about wandering into our field with so many bees. I asked my husband if he thought it would be a good business move to perhaps plant the Lemon Queen in a different location next year, as to not scare away the customers.
But we both agreed that perhaps this up-close experience with pollinators and the public would lead to something of an educational experience and people would learn that bees are gentle, essential creatures.
I’ve planted Lemon Queen Sunflower in the past, but only a few at a time. They did draw the bees but I didn’t notice anything crazy because we didn’t have the number of plants we do now, and I didn’t have the other varieties to compare.
In the end, as autumn approaches, we look ahead to the garden of next year. As the plants begin to wane, I take note of the things that did well and what I’d like to re-plant next year. Lemon Queen will without-a-doubt make the list for 2018. I encourage all of you to give this amazing flower a try as well.
If you’d like to learn more about the relationship of pollinators and sunflowers visit the Great Sunflower Project website.
Our seeds were purchased from Seed Savers Exchange. They were the only place I could find that offered large quantities of sunflower seed varieties. The website isn’t showing those options at this time, but I’m assuming that’s because it’s late in the season.
This is not a sponsored post.