UK Gardeners Urged To Leave 1 Weed Alone This Summer

It's vital to one of our most important pollinators.
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Over the winter, we wrote about how cutting down late-fruiting ivy could deprive bigs and birds of a much-needed food source.

Now, it’s summer, and nectar and pollen abound (as anyone with hay fever can stuffily attest).

Still, Mark Douglas, Cuprinol Garden Shades’ resident beekeeper and founder of Bee1, says bees still have their preferences ― which is why you might want to consider leaving your dandelions well alone.

What’s so special about dandelions?

Speaking to HuffPost UK, Douglas said that ― like ivy ― the blooming schedule of dandelions makes them uniquely useful to bees.

“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,” he shared.

Then, there’s the question of taste. If you’ve ever eaten dandelion greens or sipped on some dandelion and burdock, you might understand why bees crave the flowers so much ― but you might not know the extent of their preference.

“We have undertaken DNA analysis of honey from various sources (with Cardiff University) which has allowed us to track what the bees ‘chose to eat’ whilst on their foraging flight,” Douglas shared.

“As a result of this research, we have been able to produce a list of bees’ ‘favourite foods’... Dandelions feature very highly on the list,“ he said.

Hence the flowers feature prominently in Bee1′s “science-based seed mix, which is basically an a la carte menu for bees.”

That’s not all

Thought we were done? Nope ― apparently dandelions make your honey even better.

Douglas pointed out that 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 told HuffPost UK, adding, “Dandelions are the UK’s ‘Manuka’!”

Better honey, happier bees, and one less gardening task? Yeah, that’s enough to keep my weed-pulling hand at rest for the summer.