Beekeepers can’t help but buzz about it when the first dandelions bloom. They are so excited about it that few of them notice that fruit trees start blooming about the same time. And oddly enough, when I watch the bees in my neighborhood I see them going to the fruit trees first. If this is the case then why is it the dandelions get so much credit? What is the real story about dandelions and bees? Let’s look at a couple of possibilities:
Dandelions have a bright yellow color that is easy to see from a distance. Even a single dandelion in bloom is easy to see while a similar white or pink flower is likely to blend in until the background until you are reasonably close.
Dandelions are quite likely to grow in large patches in pastures and meadows. If there is one thing more visible than a single dandelion it is a whole bunch of them in the same area!
Dandelions are seen from mountainous areas where trees don’t grow, right down to the edges of the beach and from cow pastures to cracks in urban sidewalks. If you live anywhere in North America, you are almost sure to be within a few steps of a dandelion as soon as you walk out the door.
Nearly everyone knows what a dandelion looks like, but there are plenty of folks that cannot tell a peach from a palm tree. Being able to know what something is makes you more likely to notice it.
The Real Story About Dandelions and Bees
There is no question that dandelions are a good source of early food for bees. But depending on where you live, honeybees may find other food sources that are better for them. At my place and at my father-in-law’s, the fruit trees are more preferred. And this makes sense given the nutrition levels found in the pollen of many fruit trees.
Just because that is how things work in my neighborhood does not mean that it is the same in every area, though. What is more likely is that no matter where you are at, dandelions are the markers of many plants blooming when temperatures are right for the honeybees coming out in mass. So next spring when you see that surge of yellow taking over the neighborhood, take a look around and notice all the plants being used by bees. No doubt you will be surprised by a few things you never noticed before!