Dandelions

Are you looking out at your lawn and seeing a few hundred yellow flowers trying to poke through?  Does this frustrate you?  I understand. 

For many years I have tried to keep the dandelions back in the pastures and off of our lawn.  I would try to be wholistic and chemical free, digging away for hours at their roots in an attempt to eliminate them all.  There’s a lot of lawn here, and this was more of a workout than I was looking for.  I tried mowing them, only to turn around and find they had grown about 8 inches overnight, and now were waving their little seed heads at me, mocking my attempt at destroying them.  I tried fertilizing the lawn and letting it grow long and lush in an attempt to allow very healthy grass to overtake the dandelions.  Of course this never worked, but I did get some very beautiful, nicely fertilized dandelions.  Eventually, every three or four years I would give up on all of my chemical free ideas, buy a big jug of funny smelling herbicide and spend the day showing those dandelions who was boss. 

I have found a new and fun way to reduce the dandelion stress level.  Bees.  Have I mentioned that we have started raising bees?

After a few weeks of topping up the nectar feeder, making sure there is a pollen substitute available for our bees to eat, and generally treating them as though they are pets, we are finally witness to the signs that they are very capable of taking care of themselves.

A bee entering the hive carrying pollen pellets on her back legs.

We are so excited to see them returning to the hive with their pollen baskets absolutely stuffed full of pollen.  This began at the very beginning of the ‘dandelion season’.  The pollen basket or ‘corbiculum’ is a flattened, concave depression surrounded by curved spines which are located on the bee’s hind lets.  It is a space that has been adapted for carrying pollen that they gather from flowers back into the hive.  They use this pollen as a protein source for themselves and for the brood of new developing bees. 

Looking down into the hive for a place to put her pollen.

Now we have new flowers blooming.  The saskatoons and apple trees, the plums and the maydays are all full of the very aromatic and colorful signs of spring.  I wander around the yard peeking in the flowers and calling everyone around to come and look at ‘my bees’.  Most of the bees in our yard aren’t mine, but I feel a sense of ownership anyways.

So, with the arrival of the dandelions, our bees have become quite self-sufficient.  Now, when I see a big patch of dandelions, it’s exciting to think that this is what is feeding our bees, and won’t it be great some day to get a taste of that fabulous dandelion honey! 

The yellow combs are being filled with pollen, the white ones are capped honey.

“Bless the flowers and the weeds, my birds and my bees.”  – Unknown

<Terra>

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4 responses to “Dandelions

  1. We must be on the same page. Just this morning I read an article on the health benefits of dandelion leaves in salad. They are a natural diuretic that helps many types of ailments that need to be flushed from your system. They were used in a stir fry and if you don’t like the strong bitter taste, just boil them first. What do you think, picking the dandelion leaves for greens for supper? Has anyone eaten tried this?

  2. Should be “Has anyone ever tried this?”

  3. I have never tried them, but I saw them for sale in the grocery store two days ago. Had to wonder who would have to pay $$ for dandelion greens right now….they’re everywhere!

  4. We’ve become rather indulgent with our dandelions, and tend to leave all manner of weed clumps in our lawn if we like the look of them. There are dandelion green recipes all over the web, so as long as you know it is a dandelion your picking, I’d say go for it!

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