A local beekeeper and honey farmer is encouraging residents to leave dandelions be, for the sake of honey bees.
While dandelions may seem like a nuisance to some, Rick Beatty of Beatty Honey Farms says they’re an important source of food for bees who are emerging from a long winter hibernation.
Beatty says dandelions are particularly important in the Spring, because bees may have already gone through their stores of honey.
“The way I look at dandelions is number one – it’s not a weed – it’s a wildflower,” Beatty said. “A lot of people out there like ‘wildflower’ honey, it’s one of the most popular honeys we have in Ontario. And where does it come from? It comes from dandelions, it comes from apple blossoms.”
According to Beatty, as many as 85 percent of bees in hives die before the Spring, leaving the remaining ones hungry and looking for food.
He says that’s why the Spring bloom of dandelions is critically important to honey bees.
“They need dandelions to bring the hive up to full-strength,” Beatty said. “So, if you have a hive, and it’s not up to full strength then you’re going to get less pollination, less pollination means less vegetables and fruit, which means less local produce, which means you’ll be paying higher prices for those foods because they’ll have to be imported.”
Beatty says this is why it’s vital to leave your lawn crawling with dandelions, even if you’re not a fan of them.
He says the bees will appreciate a healthy source of food after a long winter’s nap.
“Cut your grass at four inches high, that will give these wildflowers an opportunity to continue to blossom, which means there will continue to be food, and it will provide nectar and pollen for bees,” Beatty said. “Secondly, less herbicides, use less poisons on the grass, because the bees will take it back to the hive and kill off the whole hive with some of these herbicides.”