Spring Means Dandelions and Dandelions Mean Bees


Our TV is alive with commercials about beautiful green lawns and the annual attack on dandelions and crabgrass. Now, I know nothing about crabgrass other than our ‘lawn’ is full of it. With about four acres to mow, we’re happy if the yard looks green from the street.

But dandelions … In about two weeks, our yard will be covered in sunshine yellow. Jim used to bemoan the size of the yard and the impossibility of treating it for dandelions. Or he did, back in the day. The day before bee deaths hit the news. The day before I took an Extension Master Gardener course and came home with the announcement that, at least in Kansas, the first feast for bees in early spring was dandelions. 

Yesterday, I was outside trying to get my front landscape garden into some kind of decent shape prior to a garage sale (see end note). The driveway was lined with dandelions, each sporting its own bee.  Maybe honey bees. I’m not great at identifying types of insects.

The sight of bees on dandelions gave me pause, remembering the little mantra I was taught by Master Gardener friends. “Five years after the bees disappear, the birds disappear. And five years after the birds disappear, humans disappears.” 

Now I had to ask. Was this fake information?

I hit the Internet and found out that, yes. Losing the bees would be an ecological disaster. We need them as pollinators, and we’d lose many different types of plants–think coffee–without the bees.

And losing the birds, meant losing both pollinators and seed carriers, getting different plants from one place to another. Oh, and gone birds meant we’d be without bad bug eaters–think locusts. Not to mention the carrion eaters that clear our highways of roadkill.

But I couldn’t find anything that said first the bees, then the birds, then us.

Several sites mentioned a supposed quote from Einstein who reportedly said either, first the bees, then us. OR first the bees, then within four years, us. But did he say it? Maybe not.

For me, I guess it doesn’t matter. The sight of dandelions in the yard is a cheerful one. I’m not a big proponent of carpet-like green lawns, and anyway, how many turf photos have been touched-up? Like the impossibly beautiful women and men in magazines, the garden photos I drool over seem too perfect to be real.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the next time you take out your sprayer of lawn herbicide, check the label (you should do that anyway), and think about what the bees will eat this spring if the dandelions are gone.

End Note: Live in Kansas? Near Louisburg? We’re downsizing because it’s time. Huge sale: Wednesday, April 18, 3-7pm, Thursday and Friday, 9-4pm, and Saturday if anything’s left, 9am-12noon.


6 thoughts on “Spring Means Dandelions and Dandelions Mean Bees

  1. I love dandelions! My first love used to bring me fists full of dandelions & a box of Milk Duds every day of summer! What kind hasn’t picked a bouquet for mom? Since I don’t spray I can use the greens & nip off the flowers for wine! And me&the need are happy! Good luck w/your sale!

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