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Author Topic: Are rhododendrons and azaleas good bee plants?  (Read 4996 times)
DaveKow
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« on: May 30, 2008, 05:41:36 AM »

Just wondering if rhododendrons and azaleas are bee favorites.  I see these everywhere and with their big blooms I was thinking that bees would be all over them.

Thanks
Dave
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bassman1977
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« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2008, 08:18:54 AM »

Rhododendrons produce a toxic honey. Mad Honey Disease I have never seen honey bees on our azaleas or lilacs (I don't think lilacs are rhododendrons but they bloom the same time).  Bumbles have visited.  We have dandelion flows going on when the azaleas and lilacs are in bloom so they are going after it (the dandelions) instead.
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2008, 08:33:31 AM »

Yeah, not good plants for good honey.  But you would need lots and lots and lots of them(fields of them) to make any bad honey.  You may think you have a lot of them, but they are still in the minority compared to the other plants around.

Dandelion honey is supposedly yuk too, but then again they mostly consume that honey with brood rearing.

Rick
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Rick
bassman1977
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« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2008, 09:42:27 AM »

Quote
Dandelion honey is supposedly yuk too, but then again they mostly consume that honey with brood rearing. 

I had a decent harvest of dandelion this year and I must say, it is fantastic stuff.  There is a lot of dandelion in bloom in our area in the spring. 

We even got some maple honey at the beginning of the spring.  Now the maple gets used with brood rearing a lot more than the dandelion does (for my area anyway).  The maple honey is greenish and has a maple flavor to it.  Good stuff also.

The dandelion honey is an amazing transparent yellow color.  The flavor is unlike anything I have ever had.  It has a distinct taste of dandelion but it's not overbearing.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2008, 01:42:08 PM »

>Just wondering if rhododendrons and azaleas are bee favorites.

I've never seen bees on either one.  I'd be nervous if I saw them on the rhododendrons.
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Michael Bush
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Moonshae
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« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2008, 03:34:41 PM »

I had some bees visiting my pink azaleas, but none of the other colors. I've never seen them on rhododendrons. 
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Bill W.
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« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2008, 10:18:39 PM »

Mine seem to love the rhododendrons and there are plenty around here.  I didn't notice anything strange with the honey last year.
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tillie
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« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2008, 08:53:57 AM »

There's a fun murder mystery called Hive of Suspects which includes the possibility that the bees have poisoned the apparently murdered beekeeper by making honey from rhododendron!

Linda T in Atlanta
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eri
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« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2008, 11:54:54 AM »

I have one huge white azalea (10' x 10') that some of my bees and the orchard bees and bumblebees and other pollenators visited when it bloomed. They much preferred the photinia, holly, tulip poplar, and persimmon blossoms.
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2008, 07:56:26 AM »

Absolutely, the were all over the hollies in central NC!  Last year, the drought did away with almost all holly blooms early!

And Eri, have you noticed that clover is beginning to pop out in our area as well?
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eri
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2008, 03:37:43 PM »

Two Bees --

There are several native hollies near me -- one is huge that I limbed up last year; I can stand under it. Standing under it while it was blossoming was like being in another world: heady perfume, constant contented buzz and gentle movement of busy bees.

I'm reclaiming part of a field that used to be red clover and fescue; the fescue won many years ago. But with some selective mowing I'm leaving as many patches of red and white clover I can find, encouraging them to spread. This fall I'm moving some perennials and hope to seed the empty bed with clover.

I remember as a child running barefoot through white clover, making clover chain necklaces, and searching for the elusive 4-leafed lucky foliage. After being stung a few times I learned to always watch for -- and watch in wonder -- the many honeybees about. When I began thinking about keeping honeybees last year, I realized that I hadn't seen bees on clover in several years, certainly not in the numbers I used to see. This was another compelling reason for me to keep bees.

I go to the NC mountains every few weeks. The red rhodos are in full bloom now, as well as the mountain laurel (also poisonous). I know that the honey prized there is from the sourwood flow, which is later this summer. The tulip poplar is just finishing now, which is also popular mountain honey. I can't imagine that some of the rhodo/laurel nectar doesn't get mixed with the sourwood, and no one complains. A friend is there this week -- I'll ask him to check into what the honeybees up there are visiting. I'm guessing the honey harvest is done from the topmost supers soon after the sourwood flow, so perhaps most of it at that point is sourwood with very little rhodo. Maybe I'll find some fellow beekeepers in those parts and ask.

Cheers --

  -- eri
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On Pleasure
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And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy.
People of Orphalese, be in your pleasures like the flowers and the bees.
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« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2008, 06:13:51 PM »

Both plants are in the same genus...neither are good.  Truth is, as one other poster mentioned, they are not all that common as flowers go. Most are found in cities as they are very drought sensitive and die out in the "wild".  There are a few native wild species of both but, again, not a common plant as compared with other nectar producers.
I live in the land of Azalea here in N.E. Texas- lots in my yard -but frankly, the bees buzz around them a bit but prefer most anything else.
You know, I have never even heard of a real problem in regards to them collecting off Azaleas, just the fact that they are toxic. Camelias are supposedly toxic too, my bees work the heck out of them in winter, never noticed a problem with that either.  I guess anything cultivated accounts for so little % of gathered nectar/pollen it just is not an issue.
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sc-bee
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2008, 12:03:48 AM »

Last year due to lack of other sources in Upstate SC the bees worked mountain laurel. The honey is bitter and in large amounts can be toxic. Bees usually don't work it as a preferred source and around here it is referred to as:

MOTHER-IN-LAW honey  evil

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