I have read umpteen posts about dandelions and bees relying on them as an early food source. I quit spraying our 1/4 mile long ditchbank and haven't sprayed my yard and there are dandelions everywhere. They've been blooming for a month or longer I guess. The neighbors yard is covered with them. The ditch bank across the road is covered with them. We've got them everywhere too. I have walked and looked and walked and looked. The next time I see a bee feeding on one, will be the FIRST time I see a bee feeding on one. I can only guess that dandelions are not a preferred food source for honeybees and we have something better in bloom. Opinions?
I'm quite a bit further north than you, and a lot of bee plants have/are blooming.
The value of dandelions is the 'early' food source you mentioned. I'll bet there was a time earlier that little besides dandelions were blooming. Now that there are lots of other choices, dandelions may be 'just another face in the crowd'.
Watch them bringing in pollen. The fluorescent orange stuff is dandelion, and you will see quite a bit of it. The pollen actually flies up off the flower onto the bees as they approach, the static electricity from flight attracts is. They did evolve together, after all.
I don't know when the bees visit the dandelions though, it's possible they are mostly early morning.
I see quite a bit of pollen coming in from them, even though I don't see bees on them much.
I will look for the flo orange pollen. I have a few frames that are almost solid pollen stores. Most of it is tan, grey, light yellow, with a red and bluish green scattered about. I think the tan is maple? and the red may be henbit, but I have NO idea what is green-blue. More green than blue but.... I find it fascinating too that the bees segregate the pollen per cell, according to color.
They may have fed on the dandelions earlier but I didn't see any then either. LOL
I used to think the same way, never saw bees on dandelions, but I found one year, that they only work some flowers at certain times of the day. I forget what time of day I saw them on dandelions, but they do work them. Maybe you are not seeing them at the right time of day?
Dandlions give nectar only with higher ambient temperatures, say 16-18 degree Celsius. That is the problem with dandelions here right now, too. Plenty of it, but temperatures are just a little too low. We have some sunny weather underway, so hope for a decent dandelion flow is not buried yet.
I haven't seen bees on dandelions in the spring, but I do see them in summer. In my area for the past couple of years the maple (several types), willow and henbit (in protected areas) have come out first.
Brad, I'm down here near Montgomery and the dandilions start showing up here when the henbit starts to bloom in mid February. I've noticed the bees definitely go to the dandilions for their pollen before they'll go to the henbit. However, once the red maples, early fruit trees and other more tasty flowering plants start blooming in early March, I don't see them anywhere near the dandilions.
When I first arrived in North America, I used to think dandelions were "pretty little flowers." They peppered our yard. Then I learned they were weeds. Now that I know bees like them, they might once again be pretty little flowers.
brad, i don't see bees on dandelions very often either, i think it's a timing thing. last year my bees didn't work my blackberries but this year they worked them like crazy for a week or so. now clover is coming in and they aren't hitting the blackberries nearly as hard even though there are more in bloom now than there were a couple of weeks ago. clover is running late this year so i'm guessing blackberries were the best choice at the time.
Love the pictures Birdie...It's amazing that bee, can even see, with all that pollen on its face..lol..
As a kid in mid summer, I used to catch bees in a fruit jar in the dandilion patches, seems to me it was really hot then..
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