Wild Flower or Weed?

Here is a lovely image of two pollinators on thistle flower. Honey bees also visit thistle and it is a good source of nectar for a number of insects. In Sicily and Sardinia due to its abundance honey bees make monofloral thistle honey.
However, like many other plants that provide a valuable source of food for bees and other insects, it is considered by many to be a weed.  So are weeds just wild flowers in the wrong place? There is a wide range of plants that fall in to this category; depending on where you are in the world common ones include dandelion, clover, hogweeds, dead nettles, vetches and many more. Local authorities, farmers and gardners  spend a lot of time and money cutting and spraying to control and eradicate them. So should they just be left to grow and spread? As with most things in life there is not a single straight forward answer! Some weeds are incredibly invasive and can eliminate other valuable flora. None native species can also threaten to over run native plants. Some weeds are wind pollinated, spread quickly and produce very little if any nectar (e.g. Docks and most grasses). So should we be removing the ‘bad weeds’ to make room for the ‘good weeds’? This is a subject that we will be investigating in more detail over the summer and we would welcome your thoughts and input. What weeds are valuable sources of forage for your bees? Do you get any monofloral honey from weeds? Have you cultivated or managed any weeds?  Please get in touch.

bumble bee and butterfly on thistle