Dandelions are composite flowers -every yellow strand that looks like a petal is actually an individual flower – and there are 300 atop each flower stalk. Before lunch today I counted the fully open dandelions in the garden and at a conservative count made it at least 473. Multiplied by 300 that makes 141,900 tiny flowers. 141,900 opportunities for bees and other insects to feed.
Bee expert Dave Goulson says that:
“A queen [bee] may use her own weight in sugar each day to incubate her brood, which may necessitate visiting up to 6000 flowers. If these flowers are too few and far between she will be away from the nest for much of the day, her brood will cool and as a result develop too slowly, and she will wear herself out in her frantic search for food. Hence the proximity of lots of nectar-rich spring flowers is probably vital.” Goulson 2013
At 6000 flowers per queen bumble bee per day today’s dandelions feed 23 bees and have many times more flowers than the other plants and bushes I was also counting today (of which more another time).
I have been praising dandelions for years, but now there are more reasons than ever to do so!
Forest gardening principle: plant polyfloral polycultures everywhere.