June Fireside

Gourmet level presentation of fried dandelions on plate.
Breaded and fried dandelion tops. Yet another reason Not to Spray Herbicides!


Decent weather, although the nights were on the cool side. The bees are pretty darn happy and the last round of dandelions really boosted them a few steps forward. I’m happy to report that our bees are shaping up very nicely!

This is also gardening season, and every gardener blog starts spewing hate on dandelions. YES they are aggravating and can take over your lawn, but you can also remove them after they have provided moths, butterflies, and the host of wild pollinators some much needed nutrition. Put away your cancerous lawn spray and listen to Uncle John for a moment.β€―

There is a lot of social media buzz dispelling the "Myth" that dandelions are not important to bees so we may as well spray and mow and have our lawns lookingβ€―like better homes and gardens.

Dandelions are not the most nutritional dense food for bees’ pollen wise, that is true but they make up for it in quantity. Bees prefer other pollens like maple and willow but these bloom in succession, so they are not abundant when dandelions pop up. Since very little is blooming when dandelions do, they are a crucial supply for the bees at that time. Dandelion NECTAR however isβ€―critically important in the spring for the bees.

The out of context facts are true: Dandelion pollen isn't the best of the best for the bees, but they provide a nutritional bridge to the weeks to come when other blooms emerge.

Also: Dandelions do not "distract" bees from better pollen sources. Bees are more attuned to the nutritional needs of theβ€―colonyβ€―than we ever will be, and to presume otherwise is hubris.

Anyone stating otherwise just wants the world to be a sterile golf course and to sell lots of round-up.

Let’s keep in mind that other species of pollinators thrive on dandelions as well. We cannot ignore every pollinator save the one that produces a commercial crop. It seems that any excuse to kill off this beneficial food source is the height of social fashion. I deal with this topic every spring when avid gardeners try to smother their guilt with out of context research and aspire for manmade perfection instead of nature’s bountyβ€―forβ€―other living things.

Beekeepers inspecting hive frame.
Medium sized honey frames are lighter and easier to handle for those who can't lift as much. ( Older beekeepers like me, for instance! )


A few of my beekeeping compadres are not at all happy with a vicious outbreak of Nosema that has been popping up around the province.β€―

Nosemaβ€―apis andβ€―Nosemaβ€―ceranae are two species of microsporidian parasite that causesβ€―adult bees at a young age to have difficulty digesting food for the rest of its life. These bees usually do not produce brood food/royal jelly secretions from the hypopharyngeal glands and often skip the brood rearing stage. This impacts the colonies ability to grow in time for the nectar flow, and can cause population dwindling to the point of failure.

The provincial inspection teams are out right now, and will have gathered more data as the spring rolls into summer.β€― A clear report at the end of the season is traditionally presented by the provincial apiarist. It's early in the game, but it does not bode well for the honey crop for some operations.β€―

Bee swarm in a tree on a sunny day.
Swarms come in all sizes, with this one being on the fairly small side.

Be on the lookout for Swarms!!!!

Honeybees will overcrowd themselves and divide the colony to establish new ones in the weeks to come. If you see a swarm of bees, please call me at 204-612-2337

I have a team of students and veteran beekeepers and we teach how to capture them safely to prevent them from setting up a new home in places when they become a nuisance, and may end up being destroyed. You can read up more about swarms here (link) further on in this issue.

A reminder that we also rescue and relocate bumblebees! Contact us if you find a nest under your deck, in your woodpile, or compost bin. These guys need a safe place to populate and they are crucial to our ecosystem.

John Russell

Find our very recent blog post with more swarmy swarmongering details here: The Season Of Swarming