I’m now convinced the bees eat something that is poisonous to them. If you look at noon, the hive looks normal. Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Poisonous I know things will soon get very busy so am trying to write all the posts I can now before life goes crazy! Azalea and Rhododendron: Toxic Principle: Andromedotoxins (grayanotoxins) are water-soluble diterpenoid compounds. This species yields honey in California but is suspected of poisoning or causing paralysis in bees. When I got home late that night I looked up in Wkipedia information about my trees. The ABC & XYZ of Bee Culture mentions that both the nectar and pollen of rhododendron are poisonous to bees as well as humans. Pingback: Some plants are bad for bees – The Wildlife Garden. I was dumbfounded to read that the nectar and the pollen of these Calfornian Chesnut trees are fatally poisonous to European and Asian honey bees. Instead, the rhododendron nurtures bumblebees that depend on its flowers, creating a stronger symbiosis. Consumption of the plant or any of its secondary products, including mad honey, can cause a rare poisonous reaction called grayanotoxin poisoning, mad honey disease, honey intoxication, or rhododendron poisoning. Rhododendron Species: yakushimanum Family: Ericaceae Wildlife Value: Members of the genus Rhododendron support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Andrena) cornelli. It’s common practice for beekeepers to keep their hives closed until the flowering season is over. This is partially true because not all rhododendrons contain toxic compounds. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. I have a bush of this type which I knew nothing about until about a week ago when I started finding dead bumblebees near it ! Mad honey is made by bees that feed on rhododendron flowers, which give it its psychoactive effects. The locals know the effect of the honey so they consumer it in minimal amounts. Yet, all species produce a very-attractive-to-bees nectar. Members of the genus Rhododendron support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Andrena) cornelli. California buckeye (Aesculus californica) – has caused losses of honey bee colonies throughout its range. Rhododendron from the heath family (Ericaceae) is poisonous to bees and humans. Without the coreflex I don’t think we’d notice the problem and just assume normal end-of-season population drop. while they scarfed up Rhododendron Honey and Amanita Stew." However the jury is out about whether lime nectar actually poisons bumble bees, or whether bumbles continue feeding on lime nectar even when levels are low and so they run out of energy and collapse. Bees need flowers and plants need bees for pollination. These apparently affect native and honeybees but not bumblebees. very interesting; by the way I like the idea of “randy rhododendron fans”!! Surprising things can be learned in church. Nectar of some species of Rhododendrons has been shown to contain a toxic natural compound called grayanotoxin. Width: 2 ft. 0 in. All of which I knew. Although the toxin can kill the bees, it is well diluted with water in the nectar. In fact, the majority of more recent reports of poisoning from rhododendron and azaleas occurred in Turkey where people ingested the poisonous honey produced accidentally by small … Xenophon described the odd behavior of Greek soldiers after having consumed honey in a village surrounded by rhododendrons. Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Rhododendrons are susceptible to insect and disease problems. A bee-friendly garden is a great way to support the population of these pollinators, which is dangerously declining.Did you know that not all flowers are good for bees though? “Rhododendron is thought to appear in around 1,000 species and those species produce innumerable hybrids. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. The best poisonous plants for honey bees are the plants in the family Ericaceae, particularly rhododendrons, which produce a lot of nectar and pollen. Plants are commercially propagated from plant cuttings. A landscape scale chemical analysis comparing R.ponticum plants in Ireland with R.ponticum plants in the species’ native range of Spain and Portugal found that toxin levels were lower overall within the Irish plants. Do the cannabis flowers also produce ‘mad honey’? Its poisonous nature must act as a further discouragement. The past 2 years it’s been a different pattern (and we’ve had more rain). Indeed it would be impossible to keep the bees away from it, so I have likely consumed some, since it’s around everywhere at some times of year. I think the main evolutionary advantage of the graynotoxins is that they are poisonous to grazing animals like horses, which helps prevent the plants from being eaten. Thanks for your help. The grayanotoxin is the plant’s defence against herbivore attack. There are three categories of plants that are associated with toxic honey: 1) plants whose nectar or pollen kills bees before they can transform it into honey (e.g. Rhododendron Poisonous To Bees A. J. M., Berlin Heights, Ohio, writes: - "Two or three years ago I had some Rhododendrons which came out before the red clover, and would you think it, it was something new for Ohio humble bees . That year was very dry and we suddenly had piles (hundreds) of dead bees in front of the hives every morning – not all hives, but maybe 20% of them. I was very mad at him too. Spectacular and beautiful, not many people know the common rhododendron hides a poisonous secret – its nectar is toxic to bees. People have been known to become ill from eating honey made by bees feeding on rhododendron and azalea flowers. Not all plants are safe for all pollinators. Aesculus califonica is mentioned……It flowers July – August and the blossoms are much visited by bumble and hive bees. Thanks, Emily. “There are more than 700 different species [of rhododendron] in the world, but according to our knowledge just two or three include grayanotoxin in their nectars". I found a list of other plants at http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/Plants-Toxic-for-Bees.html – scroll down to the blue ‘List Of Plants Toxic For Bees’ chart – perhaps you could check whether any of these grow near you. I also happen to know that it is planted at the Sir Harold Hillier gardens as an ornamental, not far from the hives there, and I have not heard of any issues. Also, i don't think just 20 rhododendrons in your yard will have a significant impact on honey bees in your area, as bees will collect nectar from a variety of flowering plants in that area which will dilute any potential toxins in the honey. R.ponticum was introduced to Ireland in the 18th century and has invaded large areas of the countryside, where it is regarded as a pest. Rhododendron honey is said to be toxic only if very recently produced by the bees, so commercially produced honey is unlikely to produce any effects. This makes sense – rhododendrons bloom in the spring when honey bees may be distracted by other flowers. Those bees produce a mildly toxic honey that was once allegedly used during wars to poison invading enemy troops. In Turkey, not only do the poisonous rhododendrons abound, but the humid, mountainous slopes around the Black Sea provide the perfect habitat for these flowers to grow in monocrop-like swaths. At the moment I have time because I’m on maternity leave, with my baby due on 10th April. Rhododendron Family: Ericaceae Life Cycle: Woody Country Or Region Of Origin: USA, NC, Asia Distribution: Throughout Wildlife Value: Flowers attract humingbirds. Ingested, they … Post was not sent - check your email addresses! When bees create poisonous honey containing grayanotoxins, the nectar and pollen they collect, as well as the honey is not poisonous to them; only to humans. These Rhododendrons have a toxin called grayanotoxin in their pollen and nectar. Dead bumbles have been found under lime trees before and one theory is that they have died of exhaustion after being able to find alternative flowers when the lime nectar ran out. Rhododenrons may only be a problem for beekeepers surrounded by large areas of R.ponticum, which could smother out other plants and reduce the amount of forage available for honey bees. In general rhododendrons are not a preferred forage for honey bees when there are other attractive floral resources in the surroundings. Glad your Akita was ok. Hopefully your reaction will have put him off eating any more! At this time of year (late summer/early autumn) every year we have bee deaths in elevated numbers. Honey bees are attracted to all of them, toxic or non-toxic and produce a tasty honey that in spring beekeepers usually leave it in the hive, for them, to feed themselves after a long winter. There’s quite a lot of information available when you’re buying rhododendrons, so check this when you’re buying. This is news to me and I am glad to learn it. In the foyer of the school where the event takes place there are people who have products and plants to sell specifically of interest to beekeepers. When bees collect nectar exclusively from the flowers of these plants then the nectar may have high concentrations of these toxins. Thanks for this link. This usually occurs in dense populations of these plants, particularly in the Mediterranean region. Keep in mind that they bloom early, if the bees do visit them they'll likely use up any honey themselves before the main flow happens for us - and also you'll see bumblebees pollinating rhodies, but I've yet to see a honeybee in a flower. 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