The sunflowers at our Sidmouth Sanctuary are blooming and providing a feast for the eyes… and for wildlife.
You can help but smile to see them, but what's so good about the sunflower? The bright petals attract bees to the flower’s head which is made up of hundreds of small tubular flowers, each containing nectar and pollen.
Bees feed on the nectar and in doing so get covered in pollen; as they go from plant to plant, the pollen is transferred and the sunflowers are pollinated.
Sunflowers are a rich source of nectar and all kinds of bees feed on them – bumblebees, solitary bees, and our own honey bees will certainly be paying them a visit.
Honeybees will collect both nectar to make honey and pollen which is mixed with honey to feed the bee larvae in the hive.
Pollinated sunflower heads produce seeds which are of course a delicious high-energy meal for small birds like sparrows, tits and finches, as the seasons change.
Sunflower stalks can be cut, dried and popped into a container (empty can, bottle or lidless box) to make perfect bug houses for over-wintering insects.
Just a short walk from our sunflower patch we are also growing a mixed seed plot containing flowering and seed bearing plants such as winter barley, kale, crimson clover, birdsfoot trefoil, crimson clover, phacelia and wild carrot. Again, this will provide food for both birds and nectar-feeding insects.
So if you're visiting The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, explore the fields away from the Heart of the Sanctuary and discover this beautiful sight.