Delay mowing to help the bees
No need to get the lawnmower out of the shed just yet, as some cities and boroughs are once again encouraging homeowners to delay mowing their lawns. Since 2021, the Défi pissenlits (the Dandelion Challenge) has aimed to raise public awareness of the importance of protecting pollinating insects.
Through the initiative launched by Miel & Co, Quebec residents, cities, and businesses are invited to let their lawns grow during the months of April and May. Delaying mowing allows the bees to take advantage of the nectar and pollen of the first dandelion and wildflower blooms that are naturally present in the province’s lawns. Thanks to this boost, the bees have enough energy to start the plant pollination season.
Since its launch in 2021, more than 200 cities have invited their citizens to participate in the challenge to support bees. In Châteauguay, with the exception of its sports fields, the city will be delaying the mowing of its various municipal fields and green spaces during the month of May — only cutting once the first flowering is over. The borough of Montréal-Nord is asking residents to leave the dandelions in place for about two weeks during May in order to feed pollinating insects. And in Pincourt, the town is leaving some municipal land untouched and invites residents participating in the challenge to pick up a sign at City Hall to place on their property.
With nearly 350 species of pollinators in Quebec, delaying the mowing of dandelions and early wildflowers in your lawn provides food for these pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and other insects. These pollinators are responsible for the fertilization of about 70 per cent of the fruits, vegetables and seeds we eat.
Not “No Mow May”
The Défi pissenlits is similar, but not quite the same as the British initiative “No Mow May”, which encourages homeowners, towns, and businesses to put away their lawnmowers for the entire month of May. While the objective of protecting pollinators is the same, the Quebec version is flexible, only calling for delaying mowing and allowing dandelions to bloom first.
Miel & Co invites participants to use their judgement in regard to timing. They explain that in northern Quebec, the challenge may extend into late May and even June since plant growth there is later. “Delay the mowing of dandelions to offer their pollen and nectar to pollinating insects. If your comfort zone allows you to delay mowing by 2 days, that’s already two more days of food for the bees. On the contrary, if you are comfortable delaying mowing by 20 days, go for it!” they state on their website.
There are no rules, and participation is simple: just don’t mow until the dandelions have had a chance to bloom. On their website, Miel & Co shares tips as well as free downloadable educational activities for kids. Flower seeds, lawn signs, and more can also be purchased.
You can also register yourself as taking part in the Défi pissenlits and appear on the interactive map to show that you’re helping make Quebec’s lawns nutritious for pollinators.
Visit defipissenlits.com to learn more about the initiative, the importance of pollinators, and what you can do to help during May and beyond.