Does this image scare you? Or does it make you happy?
It should scare you–but not for what’s there. What’s scary is what’s not there.
This is a part of my back lawn and my neighbor’s–a sea of gold. For some, dandelions are the sworn enemy. They’ll spray, spread pre-emergent weed control, dig, and kick the heads off these harbingers of spring. And curse neighbors like me whose decidedly un-golf-course-like lawns are the source of the wind-blown scourge.
But dandelions are one of the most important early forage foods for native pollinators–especially bees of all kinds. When I was a kid, I’d have to be careful walking through this in sandals to avoid being stung–there’d be hundreds–if not thousands–of bees of all kinds feasting there–the bumblebees with their butts all fuzzy yellow from the pollen. You could hear the hum of them working–the zoom as they moved from flower to flower–gorging themselves after a long winter.
Well, my son won’t have to worry about being stung. There aren’t any bees here. He’ll have other worries–like where his sustenance is going to come from when 1/4 of our food and drink derives from insect-pollinated crops.
I’ve been walking back and forth–mowing, yes, but also just searching–looking for the bees. And there aren’t any.
There isn’t one.
Do you chemically treat your lawn? Do you spray, dig, and curse the dandelion?
I want you to stop. Stop now. Make a promise to keep your yard safe for the bees. Embrace the dandelion, the clover, the violet–even the creeping Charlie in your lawn. When you become the cursed neighbor, curse back–or better–teach those who curse you about the loss of our bees and what we might do to help them come back.
One of the best places to start learning about our native pollinators and how to help them is The Xerces Society’s Pollinator Conservation Resource Center.
But one of the best practices you can do right now is to stop damning the dandelion.