- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
A field of green ribboned in yellow.
Anyone who drives down Pedrick Road in Dixon, Calif., and sees the spectacular sunflower fields can't help but smile.
Yellow sunflowers do that to you. They make you smile.
A native of the Americas and the state flower of Kansas, the sunflower (Helianthus annuus) brightens gardens and run-down neighborhoods, but when it's planted in rows and each head turns toward the sun, it's like a thousand suns and a thousand smiles.
Add honey bees and native bees, and nature's canvas is complete.
If you visit a sunflower field early in the morning, you might see male long-horn bees, genus Melissodes, sleeping in aggregations, on the heads.
As native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, points out: "Males of native solitary bees do not have nests to return to at night as the females do. So they fend for themselves in a variety of different ways such as these sleeping aggregations, or within tubular flowers that close up each day, like squash bee males do in squash flowers."
That's bee heaven.