Dandelions blend right in
Spring has sprung, and here in New Castle the first dandelions have raised their lovely heads. An ocean of golden flowers has begun its upvalley migration, blooming in May in Carbondale, then all the way to Aspen and up into the mountains in June.
This is a good thing. Dandelions provide a critical springtime source of both pollen (protein) and nectar (carbohydrates) for honeybees, as well as for our native pollinators. If the weather turns cold during the bloom, dandelion flowers sometimes refuse to yield nectar, and pollinators that survived a long winter can literally starve. So dandelions are important for the environment!
I’m a beekeeper, and folks like to tell me that they “love bees.” But when I ask if they love dandelions, the answer is too often “not so much.” For reasons I cannot fathom, spring’s golden harbingers are dug up, mowed and poisoned by obsessive homeowners and parks departments. Why do we humans so despise this most abundant gift of nature?
Does your lawn have to look like a golf course? If you simply let your dandelions bloom in peace, you can mow them after they bloom, and in the meantime you can admire them and watch your children delight themselves blowing dandelion seeds to the wind. After you’ve mowed, who’ll even know they’re in your yard? Their leaves are green, just like your grass. They blend right in.
Not everyone knows this, but dandelion greens make a tasty salad, if you pick them before the bloom. Just don’t eat ’em all, OK? The bees will thank you.