The bees are in trouble and with spring coming there is a chance to help them.
This project began with the idea of just taking some sunflowers into the barren, concrete yard at work to attract bees; but because I had 57 seeds left over it became a bigger project to get every one around me to nurture a sunflower.
The bees have many problems but perhaps the simplest thing that we can all do to help the bees is to plant some things that they like.
.. . . . please read onto the next steps , or check out the links below . . .
For more information here are a section of links:
Step 1: Buying Seeds
Firstly, I went on Ebay and bought 60 Russian Giant seeds, they can grow to 12 feet high if they are in a sunny spot.
The guy selling them was not doing it for profit, he just grows them because he enjoys it.
Step 2: Compost and Pots.
I bought some compost ( a grow bag seemed the most inexpensive way.)
Next, I gathered 60 of my empty houmous pots ( I do eat a lot of houmous ) and filled them with compost, with a seed in each pot.
Remember to put in large holes in the base for drainage ( or slit the side of the pot).
Step 3: The Seedlings.
I kept these outside, high up on a table to fool the slugs.
They quickly germinated.
I noticed that the root was curling up at the base of these small pots so I transfered some to newspaper pots.
During this process I read that the seedlings do not like to be disturbed, so I left the rest of them alone ( but the disturbed ones turned out ok).
I also read that bees are sensitive to the metals that are contained in coloured inks so I stopped making newspaper pots because I could not find any newspapers without coloured inks.
Step 4: Spread the Joy.
With my seedlings ready, I printed out theses flyers.
I left a flyer and a seedling on each of my neighbours' doorsteps ( twenty three of them).
None came back.
Some were left in the tiny pots and they grew but not so high . . . most were put into bigger pots and grew well.
Even with the neighbours it became a competition.
The lady opposite was sure that her neighbour was cheating somehow.
I also gave them away to friends and passing strangers who happened to be around when I was carrying them about.
People were delighted . . . I was surprised, I felt a bit silly giving these to my neighbours at first . . . but people were absolutely bowled over by the gift of these tiny plants.
Step 5: Take a Bee to Work.
The flowers that we grew at work became a competition to see whose would grow the tallest.
One chap watered his with Rockstar energy drinks daily; his grew the tallest but also was the only one that attracted greenflies and aphids.
One day I saw aphids being milked by ants, it was amazing ( I did not know that this happened with UK ants ).
Despite only being in the sun for a few hours a day the plants grew quite high.
I also grew a couple of pots with a wildflower mix as well.
Step 6: Time Lapse.
Here is a crude time lapse of one the flowers growing in my garden.
Step 7: Collecting the Seeds.
The sunflowers eventually begin to droop under the weight of the seeds and begin to go brown at the back of the seed head.
If it's a dry climate where you live the they can be left to dry.
I snipped my heads off and took them inside to dry out. ( I left some heads for the birds to feed on.)
When dry, a huge amount of seeds are easily removed.
They can be eaten by humans, guinea pigs or the birds and squirrels outside.
I have saved mine for planting.
Happy growing .