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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Northampton, New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    13

    Default Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    I am a beekeeper in New Brunswick Canada and am considering seeding some Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) in specific baron or rocky areas on our property. Although in some states this plant is considered very invasive it is not listed that way in New Brunswick and where we have a very short season and harsh climate I am looking for plants that will be good for bees and survive. I have heard from some sources that Viper's bugloss is a very good honey plant once established and produces excellent honey. However I have also read that there has been pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in the honey and/or pollen which apparently is bad for humans. The following site takes you to information on this http://www.fzi.uni-freiburg.de/pdf/44_1.pdf . Does anybody know whether the honey from this plant is really bad for humans or whether this is something to be concerned about? Thank you for any help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,974

    Default Re: Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    Stephen,

    Echium Vulgare is something that I am trying this year in Nova Scotia. I have also posted on the boards about it and have gotten very little feedback as well. I have heard of some people knowing the flower in New Zealand, but not many in the US or Canada - even though it is a ditch flower in most of the continent. The Toronto area has a fair amount of it. We are supposed to have it here as well but I have not seen it myself.

    Thanks for the paper. Interesting stuff, and good to know, as E. Vulgare is supposed to produce huge amounts of pollen. The paper's findings could be especially important if you are selling pollen.

    Keep in mind also that it is a biennial - so it won't flower until year two.

    Adam


    Adam

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,974

    Default Re: Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    pyrrolizidine alkaloids are present in a lot of plants - including borage.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Toronto, ON Canada
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    The Toronto area has a fair amount of it.
    This is my sixth year with bees in the Toronto area. This is the first time it caught my attention that the bees were on it. Bringing back a dark blue pollen. Not super abundant were I saw it, but here and there where nothing else was growing. Interesting to read about it.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    Hi Stephen.

    I have a good flow of bugloss/blue thistle and it makes beautiful, water-white honey. It grows in poor, rocky soil and the long tap root means it always has moisture, even in dry summers. For me that bloom is most of the month on June, far stronger than the borage flow.

    I didn't have to seed to get this stuff, in fact I used to try to get rid of it. After watching the bees make beautiful comb honey from it I decided to get out of the way.

    I've since eaten many pounds of bugloss honey and I can say it's only been good to me.

    Nicole

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,974

    Default Re: Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    I've looked into this more and I don't get it. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids supposedly can cause liver damage if you ingest too much of it.

    It seems like the biggest concentration of honey from this plant comes from New Zealand. However, New Zealand also has some of the lowest rates of liver-related health problems in the world.

    It seems like adverse effects would be apparent in areas where a lot of it is made and consumed...

    Adam

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Northampton, New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    Hi Adam,

    Thank you for the information. It sounds to me like we really have nothing to worry about at least if are just interested in harvesting honey. Having said this, we probably should not plant acres and acres of it...

    Stephen

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Lexington, Kentucky
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    Bump here is a link for this flower.

    http://www.themelissagarden.com/TMG_Vetaley031608.htm

    I'm going to fill my whole backyard with this plant along with lavender, buckwheat. Maybe just all echium vulgare.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Battle Ground , Washington, USA
    Posts
    752

    Default Re: Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    I planted about a 1/2 acre of purple tansy and 1/2 of borage. The borage bloomed all summer till hard frost and got worked hard. The purple tansy was alot shorter span around 5 weeks but the bees loved it and worked it till they browned out.
    I'm not tense, Just terribly, terribly alert!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Killarney Manitoba
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    was just wondering if anyone has planted vipers bug loss in a field and how much honey was harvested per acre.
    Quote Originally Posted by ImaNewBeeToThis View Post
    Bump here is a link for this flower.

    http://www.themelissagarden.com/TMG_Vetaley031608.htm

    I'm going to fill my whole backyard with this plant along with lavender, buckwheat. Maybe just all echium vulgare.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,879

    Default Re: Viper's bugloss (Echium Vulgare) as a honey plant

    I somehow ended up with this in my garden, bees worked it for for maybe three months:

    Echium pininana



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