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ATP Podcast #86: Azaleas and Rhododendrons and So Much More

By dave
April 15, 2015

We packed a lot into this episode. The first half is about rhododendrons and the second half is about a whole mix of different topics, especially about the plants database at ATP and our various plants we grow here, and much more.

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Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
Composter Beekeeper Houseplants Region: Tennessee Bee Lover Frugal Gardener
Vermiculture Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Apr 17, 2015 1:18 PM CST
@dave you talked about planting rhododendrons and azaleas near your bee hives. From what I understand the nectar is poisonous and can make poisonous honey. Even though you have to have a lot of rhododendrons and azaleas to make poisonous honey. I don't know if you would want to risk it. P.S love the podcast I listen to everyone.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
Apr 17, 2015 3:00 PM CST Admin

Hi Heath, thanks for the listening and for sharing your concern about azaleas and bees. I did a bit of research and from what I can see it seems that only the Rhododendron ponticum and Rhododendron luteum are a problem with toxic nectar. Nevertheless, you've made me rethink things for sure!! Maybe we won't grow azaleas or if we do it'll be in a different place, not near the hives. Thumbs up
Hilo HI
Apr 30, 2015 10:10 AM CST
I wouldn't worry at all about the azaleas anywhere. First of all, bees can fly several miles, so anywhere near the house would be fair game to them. But honeybees don't seem to visit azalea flowers. Even if they did, the Rhododendron genus plants in the US aren't toxic (except some in the Pacific NW and of course mountain laurel). Also, since the bees aren't adapted to the toxin, they'd be more likely to die themselves before they successfully made honey out of the nectar.

I have two hives in the N. Georgia mountains that are surrounded by mountain laurel, and never have gotten bad honey. I've also never seen a honeybee on the mountain laurel flower at all.

See the website below:
[Last edited by pathdoc - Apr 30, 2015 10:11 AM (+)]
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