Dandelions : Taraxacum
Plant : The dandelion is hated by gardeners but should be loved by beekeepers. It can be a valuable source of pollen for bees, when other forage is limited. The dandelion plant consists of a rosette of leaves at the base. A single stem emerges from this base, which produces a solitary head. The yellow flowering head develops into a sphere of white hairs which enable the seed to spread by the wind. It belongs to the asteraceae (compositae) family. (There are over 230 species within the Taxaxacum genus). Its habitat includes road side verges, pasture and gardens.
Flower : Dandelion flowers from March to October. Individual flower heads are up to 4 cm across. The composite head is made up of numerous small florets.
Pollen : The pollen load is Yellow. The grain is very distinctive, due to its thick jagged ridged exine. It is roughly round is shape and is 30 um diameter. It has three pore type apertures.
Rex Sawyer’s book, Pollen Identification for beekeepers is really helpful for understanding the features of pollen. In Bob Maurer’s book, Practical Microscopy for Beekeepers, he shows some simple techniques for making up pollen slides. Click here to return to plants for bees index.