Rhododendrons and Bees

rambling ratz

How can something so beautiful be so controversial?Photo of rhododendron flowers

The rhododendron is not native to the UK, it was introduced by the Victorians and has proved very popular due to its stunning blooms. However, where it has found its way into woodlands it outgrows the native plants and blocks their light. It is considered an invasive species and pulled up where it is considered a nuisance.

Photo of rhododendronAnother alarming thing about them, for those of us that have chosen to plant one in the garden, is that they are possibly toxic to bees. As you can see from the photos, bees are attracted to them. Yet there is some debate as to whether or not the nectar, which produces grayanotoxin, is harmful to bees. There seems to be anecdotal evidence that honey made entirely from rhododendron pollen causes « Mad Honey Disease » in humans, the symptoms are similar to being intoxicated.

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