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Thread: Toxic Nectar?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Gloucester, Virginia
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    Default Toxic Nectar?

    I was watching a survival show the other day that said that if bees made honey from the nectar of a Rhododendron the honey would be poisonous. We don't have too many rhododendrons around but a similar plant the Magnolia is quite common here. Is this something I need to worry about? If so, what do I do about it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
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    Gloucester, Virginia
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    Default Re: Toxic Nectar?

    The Warré mail list provided this:

    http://www.paghat.com/toxichoney.html

    Excellent reading!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Chapel Hill, NC
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    Default Re: Toxic Nectar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beeophyte View Post
    We don't have too many rhododendrons around but a similar plant the Magnolia is quite common here. Is this something I need to worry about? If so, what do I do about it?
    Rhodie's and Magnolia's are very different plants botanically. There is no evidence that Magnolia nectar is toxic. Do honeybee's work the flowers there? I can't ever remember seeing one on them in NC.

    Toxic honey is only a problem in areas where there is a monotypic flow of toxic nectar.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Toxic Nectar?

    Walliebee, what about oleander? Would you worry if a few of your bees visited that? I'm trying to wait for their bloom to be over to put my honey supers on, but my location has a lot of it around. I feel bad for the white ones since I've never seen a bee on one, but the red and pink flowers I've seen a few bees working (not even sure they're mine) but I had some concern. My flight path is away from the majority of the oleander though but the neighboring house has some that's in the path if it's a south wind. And and I know some people say bees don't work them, but when all you see is the bee's a@# sticking out the end of the flower, I was pretty sure it was working it. There's a few other hives around so I probably should be too concerned as it's probably a minority of the forage.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Toxic Nectar?

    As you know, all parts of oleander are toxic (cardiac glycosides). Here again, they only pose a problem IF it is the only nectar bees collect. This is a rare occurance, and I would not be overly concerned. Having said that, it is always wise to learn when the major nectar flows occur in your area and when to super, and when to not super. This is one of the steps that makes you a beekeeper vs. just keeping bees.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Toxic Nectar?

    Thanks Walliebee. Been trying to keep up with them. They were pretty busy today with lots of pollen coming in. Installed a hivetop feeder Thursday and they seemed to like it. They were pulling the 3rd deep pretty good before that but it's been taken them awhile. Maybe do a thorough inspection this weekend and see how everything looks.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Vancouver Island North, BC, Canada
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    Default Re: Toxic Nectar?

    I would sure hope that rhododendron nectar is not toxic, every house in my neighbourhood has at least one or two large rhodo bushes blooming right now. The bees are definitely showing interest in them, though they are still mostly focused on the scotch broom and cherry blossoms. Overall, not too worried.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Maryville, tn, usa
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    Default Re: Toxic Nectar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beeophyte View Post
    I was watching a survival show the other day that said that if bees made honey from the nectar of a Rhododendron the honey would be poisonous. We don't have too many rhododendrons around but a similar plant the Magnolia is quite common here. Is this something I need to worry about? If so, what do I do about it?
    Seems to be alot of lore about toxic nectar but not much i have ever read in the way of science... nectar that isn't cured can grow all sortsa stuff that may give rise to some of the stories but i think a good story is reason enough for people to share. But there is some intreasting studies on toxic pollen or pollen that when eaten by bees in a monoculture environment can have serious problems.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0201122238.htm

    This is the most recent article i have read on that subject. I think it is a good lesson which can be expanded upon, such that... If all a bee works is one plant any pesticides, phytochemicals, or lack of nutrients that make up the pollen and nectar of that plant the bee is prey to. People don't fair well getting there diet from one major calorie source (Beriberi and Pellagra) the bee which for hundreds of thousands of years worked wild fields of diverse plants in a ever changing seasonal dance have only recently been exposed to intensive pollination outsourceing. Sorry think I got on a soap box a bit... back to topic nectar is probably much safer than pollen and if from varied sources shouldn't be a risk, after all why would a plant want to kill it's pollinator?

    Daniel
    Maryville, Tn

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