It’s unseasonably warm in upstate New York, and that means that Dandelion Season will be upon us before we know it.
Because these playful yellow globes are among the first food for honeybees after wintertime, his is great news for the bees -
If the dandelions in the area aren’t sprayed with chemicals that the bees will then take back to their hive.
Many natural beekeepers use the arrival of these playful golden blooms as a marker for when the nectar flow is well underway. In fact, for some it’s a matter of honor that we harvest honey- not in the fall, when the winter dearth is still ahead - but only when the Dandelions are plentiful. This indicates that the nectar flow is underway and the honey that we left for the bees to live off of over the winter is now surplus.
Let us please remember that while Dandelions are among the bees’ first Springtime food sources, it is only healthful to them if it is not loaded with toxic pesticides, which poison bees. Bees subjected to pesticides bring them back to the hive in the nectar and pollen they collect, spreading it into the honey and wax and brood (you heard me - baby bees)! Some suggest that pesticide exposure can even leave bees disoriented (like humans with brain fog from over-exposure to manmade chemicals), and unable to relocate their hive, leading to hive abandonment.
This is one reason that pollinator enthusiasts around the world are stepping up to advocate for Dandelions. It’s a great time to recognize that, first of all, “weeds” are often just flowers we didn’t have to plan, and many of them are really wonderful medicine! Tea made from dandelion roots and leaves has many wonderful properties for detox and supporting the liver (again, for us as well as the bees, if it’s been doused in chemicals even the best medicine can be rendered ineffective or even harmful).
For generations a pristine-green “blemish-free” lawn has been the gold standard for property owners leading them to dig out or poison these friendly, helpful plants out of pressure to fit in with the perfect-lawn gang, but with increasing awareness those days are ending. Last year I drove through a neighborhood and saw someone with all their protective gear on and a spraying machine, spot-treating the dandelions in her lawn. I almost pulled over and pleaded with her to stop.
This year there will be no almost. I will plead if I have to because People Need To Know- although, as many of you have probably already discovered on your own, when a person wishes to “educate” the people around themselves, the most effective methods are rarely confrontational… you feeling me? Heheh, yeah - maybe only a few of you know what I mean.
So all this is to say, sometimes providing a passive source of education in plain sight helps to bolster our case before it comes to causing a scene in someone else’s yard. Enter the Explanatory Yard Sign. A friendly notice placed among a flourishing dandelion population in a poison-free yard, can allow people to take it in on their own terms. Even better, it helps normalize the practice of letting the dandelions (and other pollinator favorites) bloom unhindered in a gesture of planetary support. For some folks, the imperilment of another species means little - but if that species is responsible for their food supply chain, maybe that’s more motivation to reconsider the systematic poisoning of the plant life on their property.
For these reasons I went looking for a sign. At first I did not find one that met my requirements (like the food-production connection) so I made one through Zazzle, which takes artists’ renderings and applies them to everyday objects in exchange for money. You can see it (and if so inclined, purchase it) at www.zazzle.com/store/neesbees. They give a minimum price to cover production costs and the maker can choose how much profit they want. I’ve chosen the lowest percentage possible because I didn’t do it for money- but whatever money does come through it will go to support my travel expenses for advanced training and certification in the most natural methods of restoring the bees to health.
Since I made my signs I have seen others that would do, and I'm glad to know that people are using them. The faster we can normalize the practice of letting the dandelions be, the faster we can help the bees recover.