Don’t miss the Great Bee Count this Saturday

There’s still time to participate in SF State’s Great Bee Count, a citizen science project to gauge the health of pollinators across America this Saturday, Aug. 11.

SF State biologist Gretchen LeBuhn launched the project in 2008 to answer important questions about the decline of pollinators and the ecosystems that rely upon them. She enlists the help of nearly 100,000 volunteers to count bees in their garden or yard annually.

A photo of Gretchen LeBuhn, creator of The Great Sunflower Project.

Gretchen LeBuhn is an associate professor of biology and creator of The Great Sunflower Project.

Volunteers simply count the number of bees they see on a sunflower or other plant, then report the data on LeBuhn’s website,, on Aug. 11. Interested participants who already have pollen-producing plants in their garden or yard are encouraged to visit the website and learn how to participate in anticipation of Saturday’s count.

Now in its fourth year, the project has collected enough data to determine where bees are frequent visitors. LeBuhn found low numbers of bees in urban areas across America, adding weight to the theory that habitat loss is one of the primary reasons for sharp declines in the population of bees and other important pollinators.

This year, LeBuhn will continue gathering data to determine the "tipping point" at which urban features can fragment bee habitats enough to cause population decline. A map of 12,000 participating gardens also shows where more volunteer gardeners are needed.

"We’re really interested in doing deeper comparisons of rural and urban and suburban areas, and what that means for pollinators," she said.


-- University Communications