A plea from a bee keeper.. Bees collect nectar and pollen from plants for food. They make honey from the nectar. Pollen is their sole protein source (honey bees are vegetarians) and they use it to make food for their young. Most of the important bee plants in the northeast are wildflowers. Of these, probably the single most valuable early spring wildflower is the dandelion. If a bee hive survives the winter, beekeepers know the bees will be safe from starvation if they can stay alive until dandelions bloom.
Dandelion pollen is moderately nutritious and the nectar is abundant. It doesn’t normally produce what we call a ‘surplus’, i.e. enough nectar to produce honey above and beyond what the bees will use for themselves, so you won’t generally see dandelion honey for sale, but it gives the bees a huge boost and adds to the health and wellbeing of the hive.
So a very simple, easy way to help honey bees is to refrain from killing the dandelions in your lawn. They’re actually quite pretty. And next time you see a bare patch, think about planting Dutch clover instead of grass. The bees thrive on various weeds in lawns, including clover and plantain (from which they collect pollen).