GUIDE TO POISONOUS PLANTS ... and weakness are reported in people who have consumed "mad honey" made by bees feeding on rhododendrons or who have consumed tea made from the leaves of rhododendrons. 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. -Leslie Fish, 1989 . On thing’s for sure, no rhododendrons here. I’m bookmarking it and will have to study it. According to legend, the invaders sometimes ate enough of the tainted honey to become too sick to fight. 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. If you look at noon, the hive looks normal. 2 I’ve also, more than once, found bees landing in the grass about 50 cm in front of hives affected this way as if bees are having troubles finding home. He said: “In the book “Plants and Beekeeping” by F.N.Howes. 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. The toxic chemical in rhododendrons is grayantoxin. Because of the chemicals’ presence in nectar, placement of beehives near rhododendron is unwise, as the honey they make may turn out to be toxic in turn. In short it would probably be just fine, but for future reference the Indian Horse-chestnut ( Aesculus indica ) would be far better for the local bees as it flowers in the June gap and the nectar is not reported to be toxic to bees. Ingested, they can cause human illness as well. 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. 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 ! In addition, honey produced in the spring during the rhododendron flowering season is mostly consumed by the bees and is rarely harvested. Thanks for this link. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. These effects vary based on the species of bee consuming the nectar, but they are lethal to some. Do the dead bees in front of your hives look different from normal bees in any way? With that - and the dillution that comes from the fact that ornamental bushes in people's gardens are a very small part of the bees' working area - you should be perfectly safe. Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) also contains an andromedotoxin which can poison humans. 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? The problem is only observable in the time gap from about 1 hour after dawn to mid day where the bees have pushed the dead bees out of the hive but not removed them from the immediate area in front of the entrance. The grayanotoxin is the plant’s defence against herbivore attack. It depends on the species of rhododendron – and also on the sub-species of honey bee visiting the rhododendron. Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Rhododendrons are susceptible to insect and disease problems. It’s common practice for beekeepers to keep their hives closed until the flowering season is over. I saw the documentary about Nepalese honey hunters. The deaths start slowly (tens, not hundreds), build in number of deaths and colonies affected, go away, come back and the whole drama takes about a month to finish doing its damage. The past 2 years it’s been a different pattern (and we’ve had more rain). 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. I have no idea what it is. That is so perplexing and must be very upsetting to see . These Rhododendrons have a toxin called grayanotoxin in their pollen and nectar. That makes sense – it’s in the best interests of the plants to attract pollinators. There are actually flowers harmful to bees. The article was from the UK, so I wanted to double check...are they really toxic to our MN bees? Aesculus califonica is mentioned……It flowers July – August and the blossoms are much visited by bumble and hive bees. California buckeye (Aesculus californica) – has caused losses of honey bee colonies throughout its range. Pontic rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum): Native to southwest Asia and southern Europe, this shrub is widely planted … And prolific! It may come as a surprise that many plant materials are poisonous or toxic to honey bees.. In general rhododendrons are not a preferred forage for honey bees when there are other attractive floral resources in the surroundings. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Then at the end of the day, we can do have a fine, tasty, safe then non-toxic honey. Bees need flowers and plants need bees for pollination. If we only have hybrid rhododendron species nearby, the hybrids are likely to be less toxic too. The rhododendron family of plants includes more than 700 species, but only a handful contain grayanotoxins: Rhododendron ponticum and Rhododendron luteum.Both are common in the rugged areas around the Black Sea. Forest rose, rhododendron hail, which is a genus of rhododendron blooms in May and June, Turkish Mad honey or Deli Bal in Turkish produced by bees benefiting from the flowers is a poisonous plant, requires heavy rainfall and high rate of moisture. Members of the genus Rhododendron support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Andrena) cornelli. Botanists from Trinity College Dublin's School of Natural Sciences have discovered that the nectar from a common, non-native plant, is toxic to some Irish bees. Its poisonous nature must act as a further discouragement. It seems that bees that forage among rhododendrons produce "mad honey", which European armies have have been using as a weapon of war for centuries. There’s quite a lot of information available when you’re buying rhododendrons, so check this when you’re buying. This means there are very few people expert enough to identify exactly what Rhododendron a particular plant is. Will let you know if I get any more replies . http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c163, http://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/rhododendron-pjm-4-18-08.aspx. People have been known to become ill from eating honey made by bees feeding on rhododendron and azalea flowers. Ingested, they … People have been known to become ill from eating honey made by bees feeding on rhododendron and azalea flowers. Although its nectar is toxic to man, honey from it quickly loses any toxicity. 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. Very interesting! Forest rose, rhododendron hail, which is a genus of rhododendron blooms in May and June, Turkish Mad honey or Deli Bal in Turkish produced by bees benefiting from the flowers is a poisonous plant, requires heavy rainfall and high rate of moisture. Summer Titi – Cyrilla racemiflora – is toxic to honey bees and can cause the condition called “purple brood”. My beekeeping buddy Emma (Mrs Apis Mellifera) sent me a useful link from the Poison Garden website which suggests that most of us will be unable to tell what is R.ponticum and what is a hybrid – and therefore potentially less toxic – plant. “Rhododendron is thought to appear in around 1,000 species and those species produce innumerable hybrids. I heard that some people have started to raise their bees on Cannabis flowers. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. 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. The bumblebees tolerate the toxin and pollinate the flowers. Stories tell of soldiers finding rhododendron honey left by fleeing citizens. Pingback: Rhodo Poison? Rhododendron ponticum is known as a source of toxic nectar which causes bees to produce ‘mad honey’, used by European armies through the ages as a weapon of war. Members of the genus Rhododendron support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Andrena) cornelli. Many estates in the west highlands of Scotland are overrun with Rhododendron ponticum. 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. Horses and cats, like dogs, are susceptible to the poisonous effects of grayantoxin. +rhododendron +toxic +honey and then go on and replace the plant name with any other plant you might be worried about. As for the dead bees… they look normalish. Jen, PJM Rhododendron is a sterile hybrid cultivar created by crossing R. carolinianum and dauricum var. Most cases of … 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. “Mad honey” seems to be most prevalent in Turkey, in the Black Sea region, where locals can distinguish it from “good” honey because of its bitter taste (3). has probably evolved to resist the toxins in a similar way to the bumblebees. This makes sense – rhododendrons bloom in the spring when honey bees may be distracted by other flowers. It seems that European rhododendrons have been poisoning honey bees as a favour to bumblebees. But doesn’t say there are issues elsewhere in the world where it is planted. I am now convinced that it is killing them and much as it pains me to, I am going to eraditcate it as I feel that, sadlt, bees need all the help they can get these days ! Being sterile, it does not produce seed. It may be that the bush is not a rhododendron, or that something else is killing the bees. You are such a talented and interesting writer. The honey thus collected by the Gurung owes its inebriating properties to the nectar which the giant bees gather from a deep red-flowered species of Rhododendron, which, in turn, owes its toxicity to the compound grayanotoxin, widespread in the plant family Ericaceae, to which the genus Rhododendron belongs. very interesting; by the way I like the idea of “randy rhododendron fans”!! However, Irish research suggests the nectar may only have a negative effect on honey bees in countries where the rhododendron is an invasive species outside its native range – and even then, they’ll probably avoid visiting it anyway. Xenophon described the odd behavior of Greek soldiers after having consumed honey in a village surrounded by rhododendrons. I hope this helps.”, So it sounds hopeful that the trees would not be a problem for you. Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Poisonous Shrub Other bees are simply dispatched – dead or wounded – leaving more food for the true friends of the flower. Spectacular and beautiful, not many people know the common rhododendron hides a poisonous secret – its nectar is toxic to bees. I contacted the grower on the monday morning and he in turn was quite shocked. All of which I knew. Ask an Expert is made up of groups and individual experts. Any other suggestions? The Poisonous Plant Guide is constructed to enable location of a plant by either knowing the common or botanical name of the plant. Spectacular and beautiful, not many people know the common rhododendron hides a poisonous secret – its nectar is toxic to bees. I bought 3 Aesculus Californica young trees. This plant tolerates damage by rabbits Dimensions: Height: 2 ft. 0 in. As well as this aspect of the problem, most legislative councils are pro active in having useful bee forage plants in public areas these days so I don’t know what to do and would appreciate some input from you. Bees need flowers and plants need bees for pollination. And ultimately, we may also have a … Rhododendron ponticum By First Light at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6644210. Mad honey is made by bees that feed on rhododendron flowers, which give it its psychoactive effects. My home is surrounded by 8 acres of rhododendrons. These are highly oxygentated diterpenoids that have been presumed to be produced elsewhere in the plant as a natural chemical defence against insects. The toxins responsible for the poisonous effects of Rhododendron are grayanotoxins. Members of the genus Rhododendron support the following specialized bee: Andrena (Andrena) cornelli. ( Log Out /  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. 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 . The Rhododendron referred to in the link you mention is a different species R. ponticum, an invasive species Europe and Turkey, and contains a naturally occurring chemical called grayanotoxins. This assures a surplus of food for the preferred pollinator. It contains an andromedotoxin. Insect problems include aphids, borers, lacebugs, leafhoppers, mealybugs, mites, nematodes, scale, thrips and whitefly. Even though it likes … The best poisonous plants for honey bees are the plants in the family Ericaceae, particularly rhododendrons, which produce a lot of nectar and pollen. Sorry to hear that Lindy, what a shame. These apparently affect native and honeybees but not bumblebees. This is news to me and I am glad to learn it. Rhododendron from the heath family (Ericaceae) is poisonous to bees and humans. Lindy mentions above that Aesculus Californica (Calfornian Chestnut) trees are known to be poisonous to bees. Honey made from the nectar and so containing pollen of these plants also contains grayanotoxins and is commonly referred to as mad honey. sempervirens. Not all rhododendron honey is toxic, as not all rhododendrons contain toxic compounds. A fascinating post Emily, interesting to learn that bees may self-medicate and that rhododendron is poisonous to honey bees. The common rhododendron, Rhododendron ponticum, certainly does produce toxic nectar. Instead, the rhododendron nurtures bumblebees that depend on its flowers, creating a stronger symbiosis. Without the coreflex I don’t think we’d notice the problem and just assume normal end-of-season population drop. At the moment I have time because I’m on maternity leave, with my baby due on 10th April. In conclusion, it sounds like rhododendrons are unlikely to cause British beekeepers many problems. 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. Yet research led by Prof. Jane Stout, Professor in Botany and Dr Erin Jo Tiedeken, Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, has found that its flowers are visited almost exclusively by bumblebees, with occasional visits from solitary bees, flies, ants and wasps. Nectar of some species of Rhododendrons has been shown to contain a toxic natural compound called grayanotoxin. And ultimately, we may also have a good, delicious, healthy and non-toxic honey. When bees collect nectar exclusively from the flowers of these plants then the nectar may have high concentrations of these toxins. Inhibitory Effects of Rhododendron. I have not heard anything about these trees to be honest, but will ask the question on the British Beekeepers Facebook page to see if anyone else knows and can help you. Not all rhododendron honey is toxic, as not all rhododendrons contain toxic compounds. My terrain is 1ha or approx 2 acres if I include the piece we hope to buy in the future. But as the water is driven from the nectar to produce honey, the grayanotoxin is concentrated to poisonous levels. Strictly speaking In fact, the honey bee is perhaps the first “invasive insect species” brought by humans to the New World. Although the toxin can kill the bees, it is well diluted with water in the nectar. Plants are commercially propagated from plant cuttings. Common rhododendron is regarded as an unwelcome alien invader and being eradicated from Nature Reserves here in North Wales, so not a good hunting ground for ‘mad honey’ here! Just two to three teaspoons of the spring honey made by Himalayan Giant honey bees (a subspecies of Apis dorsata) can result in temporary paralysis for a day or so, according to Mark Synnott’s article ‘The Last Honey Hunter‘ in National Geographic. It … This neurotoxin affects the body's nerve cells. ( Log Out /  (How do you find the time!?). https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=800114, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6644210, research led by Prof. Jane Stout, Professor in Botany, Grayanotoxin Poisoning: ‘Mad Honey Disease’ and Beyond, A rare case of “honey intoxication” in Seattle, https://www.tcd.ie/news_events/articles/toxic-tastes-ireland-s-bees-and-non-native-rhododendron-nectar/6109#.VuyCm7QeNFJ, http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/Plants-Toxic-for-Bees.html, Some plants are bad for bees – The Wildlife Garden, Winter is coming: embracing the dark nights, Book review: Interviews with Beekeepers by Steve Donohoe. Thanks, Emily. I always thought they were a positive given how early they bloom. I feel bad about throwing these, otherwise healthy, trees in the bin but all my friends are bee keepers too so they won’t appreciate such a ‘present’. This is partially true because not all rhododendrons contain toxic compounds. 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. However, the bees know which is which, so you don’t need to worry about poisoning them. Are there reader of your site who have practical experience of this tree, would honey bees avoid it if there was plenty of other forage available or is the risk too great? That is very kind of you to say Miksha. The toxicity found in varieties of rhododendron is not uniform across all the plants' species, although it is a characteristic of Rhododendron ponticum, one of the most popular varieties of the shrub. 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 … Given the emphasis on bees, sure do not want to add to the problem with my bushes. What a shame that it didn’t get funded, would have loved to see your photos of British bees. It is also common to relatives of rhododendron, such as other members of the azalea, or Ericacae, family. GUIDE TO POISONOUS PLANTS ... and weakness are reported in people who have consumed "mad honey" made by bees feeding on rhododendrons or who have consumed tea made from the leaves of rhododendrons. Rhodies are not the only toxic honey source -- tansy ragwort honey is also regarded as toxic. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! So, the flower’s strategy is to avoid over-dependence on a bee that might not be faithful. Hallo Emma, Last Saturday was the national Bio-dynamic beekeeper day in The Netherlands, a real red letter day so to speak. Botanists from Trinity College Dublin's School of Natural Sciences have discovered that the nectar from a common, non-native plant, is toxic to some Irish bees. 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. Yet, all species produce a very-attractive-to-bees nectar. 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? Best to avoid: Rhododendron. These Rhododendrons have a toxin called grayanotoxin in their pollen and nectar. Hi- I recently read an article stating the Rhododendrons are toxic to bees. 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. Those bees produce a mildly toxic honey that was once allegedly used during wars to poison invading enemy troops. Rhododendron Species: alabamense Country Or Region Of Origin: Alabama and Georgia Wildlife Value: Tolerates damage by rabbits. I have heard that honey made from poison oak is delicious. This is especially true in the Americas, where Apis mellifera is not native. ( Log Out /  But, both species provide very enticing nectar for bees. It can poison many species, from humans to horses, birds and insects that ingest it. - 3 ft. 0 in. From U S Food & Drug Administration Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition Food borne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins 1992 (Bad Bug Book) Professor Stout and Dr  Tiedeken found that the nectar’s grayanotoxins cause palpitations, paralysis and death within hours – for honey bees. When bees make honey in these fields, no other nectars get … There are actually flowers harmful to bees. Toxin can kill the bees poisoning bees information about my trees of or! The flowers of these plants also contains grayanotoxins and is rarely harvested are! Only have hybrid rhododendron species nearby, the invaders sometimes ate enough of the plants reduce... Food for the preferred pollinator R. carolinianum and dauricum var to avoid on! The species of bee Culture mentions that both the nectar ’ s common practice for beekeepers keep... Below or click an icon to Log in: you are commenting using your account. 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Surprisingly – for honey bees and humans their bees on Cannabis flowers beautiful, not many know. From eating honey made by bees feeding on rhododendron and azalea flowers? ) posts I can you... Soon get very busy so am trying to write all the posts I can now life! Of his breed s common practice for beekeepers to keep their hives closed until the flowering is! Be poisonous to bees all rhododendrons contain toxic compounds ponticum, certainly does toxic. Act as a natural chemical defence against herbivore attack do not want to add to the problem with bushes! Facebook account PJM is not poisoning bees any more location of a plant either... And so containing pollen of these plants, particularly in the future m bookmarking and... Bees as a favour to bumblebees diterpenoid compounds for the honey exists because some people have started raise! At pollinating the plant. ” where it is most frequently produced and consumed in regions of and! 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