What’s With The Dandilions At UW-Superior? Aren’t They Weeds?

March 30, 2021

At the University of Wisconsin-Superior, every first-year horticulture or turf student learns a simple lesson: What a plant is, and what a plant is not. The professors teach students that weeds are just plants out of place. A plant in the right place with the desired function is not a weed- and that is the case with the dandelions at the University of Wisconsin—Superior campus Apiary. The University, students and staff are doing their part to help the bees in Wisconsin thrive.

About The Apiary

The University Of Wisconsin-Superior Apiary is a strange sight to campus visitors and passersby who don’t understand what they are seeing. At first glance, it appears to be a field covered in dandelions, which many people assume are weeds on campus. What many don’t know is that these Dandelions serve a purpose. Dandelions, one of the first bloomers of the spring, are purposefully left here for the bees to have a source for pollen.

Why Does It Matter?

In recent years, honey bees have been dying at higher rates than ever. This is significant because honey bees are essential for agriculture, with their work as crop pollinators being one of their most important functions. According to the American Beekeeping Federation, honey bees are responsible for the contribution of nearly $20 billion to the value of U.S. crop production.

How Does The Apiary Help?

Dandelions, one of the first bloomers of the spring, are purposefully left at the University of Wisconsin-Superior Apiary for the bees to have a source for pollen in the early spring. The bees are waking up in the early spring and looking for flowers to pollinate and get nectar from, and the dandelions serve as a great source of food while the bees wait for other flowers to bloom. As other, more desirable flowers start blooming a little later in the year, the dandelions are not as important, but as a one of the only boomers early, and these dandelions are not weeds at all.

Our Partnership

SSC Services For Education partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Superior to provide a creative solution to create awareness of the Apiary. Our Grounds, Communications and Marketing teams partnered with our Graphics Shop to create a message explaining the field of dandelions. This message is displayed on signs at the Apiary, which direct visitors to campus to this resource with further explanation about the purpose of the Apiary.

In the early spring months, take time to appreciate the beauty of the yellow flowers that help feed our bees. These small, harmless insects are a significant source for pollinating our fruits and vegetables. Looking for ways to help at home? Consider planting a bee garden in your own yard with plenty of flowers, using less chemicals in your gardens and supporting local beekeepers in your area. Check out our resource center for more fun examples of what we do at educational facilities around the country!