Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
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Contact: Gianna Devoto
San Francisco State University

Get ready for the Great Bee Count

San Francisco State University professor of biology Gretchen LeBuhn founded the Great Sunflower Project in 2008. To celebrate the Great Bee Count on Saturday Aug. 17, 2013, the public is invited to count bees wherever they see them, whether in a garden, a local park, or a parking lot.
Credit: Noah Berger, San Francisco State University

Here's something to think about the next time you sit down to eat: Without bees, every third bite of food would be missing from your plate.

That food would go missing because bees are needed to pollinate many of the plants we eat. Because bees provide such an important service to humans, it's important to make sure that they are healthy all around the country.

Gretchen LeBuhn, a scientist from San Francisco State University, is building a map of where people are seeing honeybees in the United States. She wants to know more about what kinds of plants and places bees seem to like, so we can do more to protect bees and the valuable job that they do.

LeBuhn is asking everyone to join the Great Sunflower Project. People who join the project count how many bees they see while sitting in their backyards, walking to school or even taking a hike through the woods. They then upload their count to the Great Sunflower Project website.

Participants can share their bee sightings at the website anytime, but the project would like as many people as possible to upload their bee counts on Aug. 17 -- this year's Great Bee Count Day.

People from all over the United States are helping the SF State scientists learn more about bees, including students from several schools. LeBuhn, a professor of biology, is working with first, second and fourth graders at a California school to find out what kinds of plants bees like to visit the most.

"The kids know their bees better than some of my college students," she said.

To join the project before Great Bee Count Day, visit the website at http://www.greatsunflower.org.