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SFSU Researchers Buzzing Over National Bee Count

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A bee flies towards a sunflower to collect pollen. (Torsten Silz/AFP/Getty Images)

A bee flies towards a sunflower to collect pollen. (Torsten Silz/AFP/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – With bees mysteriously dying off in many parts of the U.S. and the world, a Bay Area research project is asking the public to take part in a massive undertaking – counting bees all over the country.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

The information will be used to see where bees are thriving – and where they need a little help in order to blossom.

Initially, researchers suspected some combination of pesticides, parasites and pathogens may be to blame for the widespread bee die-off.

San Francisco State University researchers launched the Great Sunflower Project three years ago because experts have shown bees to be an essential element of our world

“If a bee didn’t do its work, we wouldn’t have anything that makes seeds or fruits, including apples, vegetables,” pointed out SFSU researcher and Great Sunflower Project outreach coordinator, Fred Bove. “We don’t know exactly what it is causing colony collapse disorder but we do know that bees are responsible for every third bite of food that we eat.”

The Great Sunflower Project encourages people to plant sunflowers now – in the hopes that they bloom in time for the great bee count on July 16th. In a nutshell, the bee count simply means keeping tabs on the number of bees who visit the growing sunflower within a 15-minute window that day, and reporting that number back to the researchers.

Bove calls it a citizen science project.

“By citizen science I mean we’re enlisting folks all around the country to act as scientists to observe and record data and send it in.”

Already, close to 100,000 participants – in all 50 states – have signed up to take part in this year’s bee count.

“It’s a perfect way to spend some time with your children observing nature,” pointed out Bove. “Unplugged from games and distractions and really do some very thoughtful observation in nature.”

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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