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Today we have a bit of a mystery in our sunflowers.

Most of the flowers look like this:

This flower is different:

Yes, there is still a bee collecting nectar and pollen.

But there are some clues that another insect is hiding in this flower as well as the bee.

Any ideas what kind of insect is in this sunflower besides the bee?

Did you identify the mystery seeds last week as sunflower seeds?

sunflower-plant

In fact they were the black oil sunflower seeds sold as bird food. Those grow pretty easily.

sunflower-close-up

Did you know sunflowers were originally from the New World? There are about 80 different species, including the so-called Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus. The wild kinds often have many small flowers, and many are perennials.

sunflower-wild

The lesser goldfinches were having a field day in these sunflowers.

There are a lot of different varieties of annual sunflowers (Helianthus annuus).

sunflower-lemon-drop

This is a Lemon Queen, grown for the Great Sunflower Project last year.

Many animals benefit from the flowers and seeds.

sunflower-honeybee

Many bees and other insects enjoy the pollen and nectar from the flowers.

sunflower-bird

Of course, people enjoy eating sunflower seeds, too. Have you ever had sunflower seed butter? It is a nice change of pace from peanut butter.

sunflower-single

Sunflowers are cool because the buds of some varieties follow the sun throughout the day. As the flowers start to produce seed, however, I've noticed that they tend to stop moving. Often they begin to drop downwards.

Here in Arizona sunflowers will grow throughout the year and they are pretty drought tolerant, too.

Have you grown sunflowers? What varieties are your favorites?

If not, you should give them a try.

Did you know that honey bees aren't native to the Americas? The honey bee came to North America with the Europeans. The continent wasn't lacking in bees before honey bees came, however, because a vast assortment of native bees were already happily pollinating flowers.

Like these busy native bees working our sunflowers.

sunflower bee

The pint-sized pollinators have been coming in a constant stream since the sunflowers opened.

sunflower bee

They leave each flower with yellow pollen-laden legs loaded to overcapacity . How do they even fly?

sunflower bee

Thanks to these bees we have a heavy crop of sunflower seeds. Go, bees, go!

sunflower bee