Home Life & Style Gardeners urged to leave one weed alone this summer to promote garden...

Gardeners urged to leave one weed alone this summer to promote garden growth

Dandelions, often dismissed as pesky weeds, are in fact a vital resource for bees and can significantly improve the quality of honey. 

Over the winter, it was highlighted how cutting down late-fruiting ivy could deprive birds and insects of essential food. 

Now, as summer brings an abundance of nectar and pollen, bees still exhibit particular preferences, making dandelions more important than ever.

Mark Douglas, the resident beekeeper at Cuprinol Garden Shades and founder of Bee1, told Huffpost about the critical role dandelions play in the diet of bees. 

According to Douglas, dandelions are among the first plants to bloom in spring, providing an early food source for bees emerging from their winter dormancy.

“Being one of the first plants to emerge in spring, they provide one of the first sources of food for sleepy, hungry bees after winter,” Douglas said.

He revealed that dandelions are not only essential due to their early bloom but are also highly favoured by bees. 

This preference was identified through DNA analysis of honey, conducted in collaboration with Cardiff University, which traced the foraging patterns of bees.

“We have undertaken DNA analysis of honey from various sources, allowing us to track what the bees chose to eat while on their foraging flight,” Douglas explained. 

“As a result, we have been able to produce a list of bees’ favourite foods, and dandelions feature very highly on this list.”

This insight has influenced Bee1’s creation of a science-based seed mix, designed to cater to bees’ preferred diet, with dandelions playing a prominent role.

Beyond supporting bee populations, dandelions contribute to the production of superior honey.

Douglas highlighted that dandelion-derived honey possesses strong antimicrobial properties, comparable to the highly regarded Manuka honey.

“Honey is antimicrobial, meaning it doesn’t go off. 

We have found that dandelions produce some of the strongest antimicrobial properties of native plant species in the UK,” he noted. “Dandelions are the UK’s ‘Manuka’!”

For gardeners, allowing dandelions to grow freely offers several benefits in aiding bee populations, enhancing honey quality, and reducing the need for weeding. 

As such, dandelions represent an easy way to contribute positively to the environment.


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