Sunshine Day at the Dowse – Sunday 24 November 2013

Hello lovely sunshiney people!

Come and celebrate sunflowers, our communities and bees with us this Sunday. Our Sunshine Day is at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt from 10.00 – 11.30am.

Our Sunshine Mobile is stacked with sunflower seeds and seedlings, which will be available to take home for a gold coin donation – including our special limited edition ‘mystery seeds‘.

If you bring along an empty milk bottle, we’ll show you how to make it into a handy watering can. You can also make your own beautiful bee sticker, string together an awesome Project Sunshine necklace, colour in a sunflower page, chalk up the pavement and take part in other fun craft activities.

If the weather is lovely we will stay on longer outside under the trees with art activities, picnic blankets and maybe even some cake!

We’d love to see you on Sunday, so please come and say hi 🙂


Beautiful and bright: painting sunflower seed packets

Yesterday it was a bit windy to be outside. So instead of tending to their garden, the Project Sunshine team embraced their artistic side and set about painting lots of sunflower seed packets.

With a brush in hand, our little farmers turned into little artists and created some absolutely stunning works of art.

The theme of the day was ‘loving our bees’ and each child painted a bee on a seed packet, as well as sunflowers and hearts and anything else sunshiney that captured their imagination.

We then let the works of art dry and enjoyed looking at all the bright colours on display.

Look at all the beautiful bees! These packets are going to contain a very special sort of sunflower seed – keep watching this space to find out more…


What’s the buzz

Here’s the buzz from this week. Keep reading below to see what we’ve been up to!

Our ‘Sunshine Day‘ got a mention in the Hutt News newspaper, thanks to reporter Karoline who joined us for part of the morning. (You can check out more photos from the day here). We’re hoping to do a few more community plantings like this at some point this term, so watch this space for further information.

We’ve posted out many, many envelopes full of sunflower seeds this week. It has been bloomin’ lovely! Please get in touch if you’d like a packet, or if you know someone in New Zealand that would.

We’ve also updated our map – it’s really cool to see the little trail of flowers spreading around the country and we think our little farmers will be really surprised when they come back from the school holiday break and see how far their seeds have been sent.

We’ve been decorating more seed packets – trying to keep up with the demand! It has been fun watching my six-year-old paint these seed packets with watercolour and acrylic paint, and this morning we experimented with some hand-made stamps.

And finally, we want to say a huge sunshiney *thank you* to everyone who has given us financial donations, or other forms of koha this week. We’ll do a separate blogpost about some of the fantastic things that we have received in return for packets of seed, which will all go to the children at Epuni School. And the financial donations mean that we’ve been able to buy lots more stamps, so we can post out more envelopes! We’re a little bit in love with these gorgeous bee stamps, which just go so well with the aims of our project.

The bee’s knees

When we first started Project Sunshine, the children who planted sunflowers noticed that the golden flowers attracted lots of bees. Their discovery then led to many discussions about the importance of bees and what we can all do to encourage them in our neighbourhood gardens.

‘Helping the bees’ is now an important part of Project Sunshine. We appreciate the important work they do and want to teach others about the world’s most important pollinator too!

Here are fascinating bee facts:

  • About one third of everything we eat is pollinated by bees. Many of our crops would not be viable without bee pollination. Both honeybees and bumblebees are important pollinating insects.
  • Bees have been producing honey for at least 150 million years.
  • Honey bees transform nectar, a sweet substance secreted by flowers, into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. They store it as a primary food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive.
  • To make honey, bees drop the collected nectar into the honeycomb and then evaporate it by fanning their wings.
  • There are three types of bees in the hive: queen, worker and drone.
  • Workers live about 45 days in the summer, while drones are driven out of the hive in Autumn. Queen bees can live for up to five years.
  • The queen may lay 1,500 or more eggs each day during her lifetime. This daily egg production may equal her own body weight. She is constantly fed and groomed by attendant worker bees.
  • A bee’s wings beat 190 times a second, that’s 11,400 times a minute – this creates their distinctive buzz.
  • Honey bees are the only bees that die after they sting.
  • Honey bees have five eyes: three small ones on top of the head and two big ones in front.
  • Bees communicate with each other by dancing and using pheromones (scents).

Over recent decades there has been a noticeable decrease in worldwide bee populations. In some places in the world, bees are simply disappearing. This is known as Colony Collapse Disorder. There are many different theories as to why this is occurring, but we do know there are a few things we can do to support bees, and they are simple:

  • Stop the use of pesticide sprays in our gardens. They not only kill bees, but also disorientate them, making it hard for them to return to their hives.
  • Plant plenty of food for them. Bees need flowers to forage, all year round. Flowers are not only great for bees but they make us feel good too! Click here to see a great list of other bee friendly flowers you can plant. 
  • Respect them. Our little friends the bees should not be feared. Once we appreciate the important work they do for us and how much we rely on them, the bees will be much better off. And so will we!