Our dandelions needs some TLC | AspenTimes.com

Our dandelions needs some TLC

Right now, as far upvalley as Carbondale — or maybe even farther — tiny bursts of sunshine are emerging from our lawns, ranchlands and public places, announcing that spring is truly here. It’s dandelion season.

The name dandelion is derived from the French, dent-de-lion, or lion’s tooth.

This perennial children’s favorite flower is actually a dense bunch of mini florets that form the most important early-season food for honey bees, as well as myriad native pollinators. Bees collect protein in the form of dandelion pollen, and if the weather is sufficiently warm, carbohydrates in the form of dandelion nectar. Bees dry out the raw nectar by fanning it with their wings, adding mysterious bee chemicals and enzymes, and magically converting it to honey. After consuming all or nearly all of their stored honey from the summer prior, dandelions can provide the boost bees need to keep from starving before the onset of myriad summer flowers.

You can help our endangered pollinators by watering dandelions, rather than poisoning them or digging them up. Your lawn doesn’t need to look like a golf green, does it? Stop for a moment and admire these lovely gifts of springtime. If you cast aside your culturally induced prejudices against these little darlings, you have to admit that they really are very pretty.

If you leave them be to flower, you can mow them when the flowers turn to “blowballs,” and they’ll be sure to come back the following spring.

Ed Colby

President, Colorado State Beekeepers Association

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