Dandelion and bees

Honey bee on dandelion flower

The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a herbaceous perennial plant of the family Asteraceae (Compositae). Taraxacum officinale is considered a weedy species, especially in lawns and along roadsides, but it is sometimes used as a medical herb and in food preparation. It is a nearly cosmopolitan weed. Common dandelion is best known for its yellow flower heads that turn into round balls of silver tufted fruits that blow away on the wind. The seeds remain viable for many years and are spread by the wind up to several hundred meters away from their source. One single plant can produce up to 5000 seeds in one season.
The plant has several culinary uses. The greens and the as yet closed flowers are used raw in salads. Older leaves are usually sauteed and served as side dishes. The leaves are high in vitamin A, vitamin C and iron, carrying more iron and calcium than spinach.
With the yellow flowers you can make dandelion wine and beer. The flowers can be used to make a flower jam. For centuries the roots have been roasted and used as a substitute for coffee.

Dandelion is part of the list of honey plants thanks to the abundance of the yellow flowers which are rich both in nectar and pollen much needed by bees. It is possible even to harvest dandelion honey, which is strong in aroma, golden yellow in color and rather solid. To produce one kilo of dandelion honey the bees have to visit more than 100.000 flowers!

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