View Full Version : Azalea Honey

05-27-2005, 07:27 AM
I just read the article Michael posted in that thread about the NewYork hives needing a new location. The article had a quote stating that honey made from azalea nectar could be toxic.

A quick search on google came up with many sites confirming this. However, some of those sites mentioned that the azalea flower is built such that it makes nectar collection difficult for honeybees. They also say that usually there are other flowers blooming at the same time as the azaleas that the bees prefer more.

I live in Virginia where the azalea might as well be the state flower. Everyone has at least fifty azaleas on their property. (okay, exaggeration, but there are lots!) So even if there are other plants blooming, there are so many azaleas that I would think the bees couldn't help but visit them!

I'm not collecting honey this year as my two hives were started in early May from packages, but what about next years crop? Should I be worried? Any VA beekeepers had problems with their honey being bitter or toxic?

I'm probably overreacting...

Mead Maker
05-27-2005, 07:41 AM
My hives are in Charlottesville, where azaleas are plentiful, and the honey is fabulous. No one has gotten sick that I know of - I've never noticed the bees on the azaleas.

05-27-2005, 08:35 AM
Thanks for the reply. I've lived here all my life and I figured I'd have heard about it if there was a problem with the honey due to the azaleas.

Seems a shame, though, you know? So many azaleas, but the bees ignore them. Oh well, I suppose that's for the better!

Thanks again!

05-27-2005, 08:46 AM
Same in Mobile - azaleas are very plentiful, but I have yet to see a honeybee visiting one.

05-27-2005, 11:32 AM
I saw an article about this several years ago. It stated that the only time you may encounter a problem is if you extracted just the azalea honey. By the time it is mixed with the other 'wild flower' honey the toxic levels are below threshold levels. This also applies to rhododendrons.

05-27-2005, 06:56 PM
We have lots of azalea here too, but have never seen a honey bee near them. During the azalea bloom there are LOTS of other things that keep their attention. I eat a lot of my honey and I'm still alive.

I don't really think its a problem. There are many states where azaleas are present and if it were a real threat then we'd here much more about it.

05-28-2005, 06:09 AM
I read a story about this. once. Mind it WAS a FICTION story, but much of the beekeeping part was factual....

At any rate, in the story the ONLY time a person had to worry was in a wet, cold spring where the bees gathered rhododendron honey (azalea is a type of rhododendron) because they were starving. They said that they would leave the rhododendrons alone if there was ANYTHING else!

PErhaps this is true and perhaps not, but it DOES make sense.

George Fergusson
05-28-2005, 06:35 AM
I was under the impression that Azalea (and rhododendron) pollen and/or nectar was toxic to *bees*, not that the resulting honey was toxic to humans... Quoting from "Beekeeping" by John Eckert and Frank Shaw (1960):

..The plants that are known to be injurious to bees are (latin names not included, gsf):

black nightshade
California buckeye
death camas
mountain laurel
veratrum or corn-lily
yellow jessamine

"The amount of injury will depend on the prevalence of the different plants and their attractiveness to bees in the area...

It goes on to say:

"As a general rule, honey produced from the plants listed, if there be any, is not injurious to man, the one exception being that from mountain laurel which is said to cause acute illness".

Dunno. I always thought mountain laurel was a form of azalea.

Could be bad for ya? I thought it was GOOD for ya!

Michael Bush
05-28-2005, 06:48 AM
>Dunno. I always thought mountain laurel was a form of azalea.

I believe it is.

I've had bees and azaleas for a very long time now and I've never seen a single bee on the azaleas. Ants, yes. Bees, no.

05-28-2005, 02:39 PM
I live in NC and have rhododendron, evergreen azalea, native azalea, all around my house. There is a beautiful mountain laurel in full bloom right now by the steps to my back porch. I have never seen my bees near any of them. Don't know why, but they don't show any interest. I think they are all members of the Rhododendron family.

05-28-2005, 06:41 PM
Thanks everyone for your input!

I had read that the toxin was NOT toxic to the bees, but was to humans.
Eh, well, I did read that on the internet and everyone knows that you can't trust all the information on the internet!
But I DO trust everyone here, and I'm just happy knowing that there isn't much of a worry either way since the bees don't visit these flowers.

05-29-2005, 03:08 AM
Hi, smile.gif
I have an old,large Azalea in my front yard.When it is in flower it is full of bees.The school bus backs in and turns around next to the Azalea.We wait there in the morning and have bees flying all about.

Im guessing that you guys have the same Azaleas we do
but your bees tend to ignore them.We have timed this Azalea to be in its peak flowering around football grand final,last week in september(september is our first month of spring)

Thank you

05-29-2005, 03:20 AM
Hi,again :
I also should say this Azalea flowering for me happens before any honey flow from the gum trees. This may catch our bees attention.

I would have liked to put this in my original reply.
How should I have done that?

Thank you

05-29-2005, 04:58 AM

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05-29-2005, 05:56 AM
This is a site about toxic honey


05-29-2005, 05:57 AM
This is a site about toxic honey