Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Don't Dis Dandelions

Dandelion landscape with pollen-toting honey bee
Dandelions need more respect.  Possibly a bee for a public relations agent would help. 

Dandelions are one of the first flowers to bloom and they are most definitely used by our most beneficial of insects - the bees!  There is a place if not a need for an area of dandelions in any yard.  People just require a new way of thinking about them.  They are not weeds but rather bright yellow flowers that provide nectar and pollen for flower foragers! 

These photos from last year present four species of bees that utilize dandelions.  I am on the look out for more this year.  Note how the pollen turns orange when the honey bee packs it in her corbiculae, tamped in place with a bit of regurgitated nectar that helps preserve it.   

Honey bee, front view, nose-diving into flower

Andrena  sp. female on dandelion

Nomada sp. (a nest parasite) on dandelion.  This male bee is also a pollinator.

Unidentified native bee on dandelion

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