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Thread: ?Toxic oleander honey

  1. #1
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    Default ?Toxic oleander honey

    My son,who lives in Thousand Oaks, CA, would like to set up a beehive in his yard which has several oleander bushes. I know that all parts of the oleander bush is quite toxic, and after a google search, found some sites that say that oleander honey is toxic to bees and to humans. If he sets up a hive there and it thrives, would the honey be safe- assuming it it is diluted with the nectar of other flowers in the vicinity? Does anyone out there have any direct experience in collecting and using honey from hives located near oleander bushes?

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    Should a hive produce it's honey from only (or a vast majority) of Oleander blossoms yes it would not be healthy, but bees are pretty wide ranging as they need to visit a LOT of flowers so I doubt a few bushes present are going to be a problem, would be a point of conversation though.
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    Hmm, that is interesting. I'd be really worried personally, but you could always get a mouse from the pet shop (the kind they feed to snakes) and feed it some honey. If it dies, don't eat the honey!
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    Thanks everyone. I told my son if there is a doubt that maybe he shouldn't do it. It seems that if this were a definite risk that there would be more information out there- or maybe I'm just not aware of it.

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    Hmmm, I was just doing a little looking into this and noticed that rodents are relativley immune to the toxin... So a pet store mouse may turn out to be a Judas. =) Keep in mind this is from a wiki...


    Toxicity studies of animals administered oleander extract concluded that the rodent and avian species were observed to be relatively insensitive to oleander "cardioactive glycosides".[8] Other mammals, however, such as dogs and humans, are relatively sensitive to the effects of cardiac glycosides and the clinical manifestations of "glycoside intoxication".[8][9][10]

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  6. #6
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    Huh, well so much for that idea.

    I've been thinking about this a bit more too. There is lots of oleander in California. Lots. Huge sections of highway are lined with the stuff. (it's very drought tolerant and stays green year-round.) But I know there are companies that sell honey foraged in the urban areas around San Francisco, e.g. Oakland, Berkeley, Marin, and Napa. These bees certainly run across oleander on a regular basis, but the honey is fine to eat. Considering how sensitive bees are to toxins, if the bees make the honey it's probably ok to eat.
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    I don't know for sure, but would think that if the necter in toxic the bees would know to stay away.

    They are not nearly so dumb as to drink something that would harm them. Unlike some animals.
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    ...or maybe:

    There are three categories of plants that are associated with toxic honey:
    1) plants whose nectar or pollen kills bees before they can transform it into honey (e.g. locoweed [Astralagus lentiginosus], Veratrum californicum, Vernonia spp.);
    2) plants whose nectar is harmless to bees but when turned into honey becomes toxic/inebriating to humans (e.g. oleander [Nerium oleander], thorn apple [Datura spp.]. angel's trumpet [Brugmansia spp.], mountain laurel [Kalmia spp.], false jasmine [Gelsemium sempervirens], Euphorbia marginata, Serjania lethalis);
    and
    3) known poisonous plants that are harmless to bees and yield edible and often exquisite honey (e.g., Rhustoxicodendron, Metopium toxiferum, Jatropha curcas, Baccharis halimifolia, Ricinus communis) (Morton 1964, 415).
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    I'm tending to agreee with Riverat and Akueck, a couple of bushes is not going to poison a whole season's worth of honey in a hive's entire harvest unless it's plunked right in the middle of fields of the stuff. We eat small amounts of many toxins all the time, it's a concentration thing like the cyanide in certain fruit seeds.

    And if he's really concerned, just make sure there are plenty of other options in the area, plant some other flowers that bees like. I'm not going to make suggestions on what because I don't know what grows in the climate, I only know what I'd plant up here .

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    If it grows in Canada, it grows in California. You probably want something drought-tolerant though.

    We had some alyssum in our front yard that grew really well and didn't need much water after being established. Nice groundcover, pretty little flowers. Ligustrum is also pretty hardy, though the flowers are shorter-lived they smell really nice. Rosemary and thyme grew nicely in Oakland, perhaps they'd be good in SoCal too.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by akueck View Post
    If it grows in Canada, it grows in California. You probably want something drought-tolerant though.

    We had some alyssum in our front yard that grew really well and didn't need much water after being established. Nice groundcover, pretty little flowers. Ligustrum is also pretty hardy, though the flowers are shorter-lived they smell really nice. Rosemary and thyme grew nicely in Oakland, perhaps they'd be good in SoCal too.
    Do you have crabapple trees?

    Oh, if I had a lawn, I would rip out the grass and plant nothing but creeping thyme...
    "The main ingredient needed is 'time' followed closely by 'patience'." - The Bishop 2013
    "When you consider that laziness and procrastination are the fundamentals of great mead, it is a miracle that the mazer cup happens." Medsen Fey, 2014
    "Sure it can be done. I've never heard of it, but I do things I've never heard if all the time. That is the beauty of being a brewer!" - Loveofrose, 2014
    "I tend to....um, er, experiment, and go outside the box. Sometimes outside the whole department store." - Ebonhawk, 2014

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