Are Dandelions Worth the Hype?
What’s the deal with dandelions? [In my best Jerry Seinfeld impression]
What is the deal with dandelions? Are they the holy grail of early spring bloomers, or an over-rated weed?
Here’s what I have found so far.
Around this time of the year [the early onset days of spring] you will see a familiar yellow, dainty flower emerging all over your yard. Your initial reaction…yank that son of a bitch from the earth from which it has risen!!
But wait! A little voice halts you in your tracks. You seem to recall seeing a random Facebook post, amid all the political banter and dancing animal videos that occupy your feed, telling you to have mercy on this tiny intruder. For it will bring abundance to the bees and other helpful pollinators that live among your garden.
But is it true? Are these “weeds” all they are cracked up to be?
Well…yes and no.
On the positive end of the argument, dandelions are some of the first blooms we see as we make our way out of the dreary winter season and head towards warmer weather. The seem to pop up everywhere; in our yards, garden beds and even in the cracks of the pavement. And while it may not be the beauty queen of the garden pageant, this little bud does produce both a pollen and nectar source for the pollinators (mainly the european honeybees) you begin to see coming out of their winter hibernation. But while these buds may be providing our buzzing friends with a well deserved snack, it is not the most nutritionally dense source of food out there. Dandelions (taraxacum officinale) actually lack 4 major amino acids that are essential for a complete healthy bee diet [arginine, isoleucine, leucine, valine], and the absence of these amino acids can result in a lack of brood rearing within hives. This does not make them useless to bees, just that they are one part to an overall healthy and varied diet.
Think about it as if you only ate chicken all the time. Does the internet say that its a good source of protein? Hell Yes!! But let’s face it, chicken isn’t going to provide you with all of the antioxidants and vitamins that your body needs to stay healthy and strong. You got to mix it up, throw in a kale salad every now and then. Dandelions work the same way. While they are a good pollen and nectar source for the bees, studies show that a pollen and nectar diet coming from a variety of flowering plants is the best way to ensure that bees are getting the proper nutrition needed.
To sum it up: Curb your enthusiasm for a little weed pulling spree and instead watch your little buzzing friends come for little frolic. No one is judging you and maybe will be inspired to do the same. Making for some very happy bees this spring.
Hope that you found this little tid bit of information interesting :)
If you have more to add, I’d love to know!