Beekeepers want people to stop weeding their dandelions

Here's good news if you hate picking dandelions out of your lawn. You can leave them be, if you want to be good to bees.

Association says dandelions important food source for bees, should be allowed to grow

Live and let live, say beekeepers on P.E.I., who want people to stop spraying and picking their dandelions. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

The president of the P.E.I. Beekeepers Association is encouraging homeowners not to kill their dandelions.

Although they're considered a weed, Dave MacNearney says dandelions are an important food source for bees in the spring.

MacNearney is also a blueberry farmer, and he says if homeowners could keep just 10 per cent of their lawns natural, it would make a big difference.

"You know it's a habitat loss is really what affects bees," he said. "That green grassy lawn, it looks great but it's not very good habitat for honey bees or any other good natural pollinator." 

Right now there are 46 Island beekeepers across the province who look after more than 4,300 beehives. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)
MacNearney would like to see more Islanders enjoy their dandelions as part of the natural habitat.

He said that many people are concerned about bees, and the simplest solution would be to quit using herbicide to take dandelions out of lawns.

"It would be nice to just have a campaign to let the dandelions live," said MacNearney, "and know that they're kind of an indicator species of natural habitat for bees, rather than our manicured lawns."

That's what the City Of Summerside did last week, when a post on its Facebook site was about the "miraculous benefits" of dandelions.

MacNearney applauded that, but said it's very hard to change people's gardening habits.

Beekeepers will have to provide colonies for wild blueberry or other fruit crop pollination to be eligible for financial assistance through the Pollination Expansion Program. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)
"If someone absolutely feels that they gotta have a clean lawn, then any kind of evidence to the contrary, they're just gonna reject it anyway, but you gotta start somewhere," he said. "But I think people are becoming more aware of the environment, and more aware of who we share it with, and willing to kind of give a little bit maybe."

MacNearney said he knows he's asking a lot from gardeners and homeowners who loathe them, but said they need to learn to love dandelions, and leave them alone.