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Not all plants can be considered friendly for bees. If you’re worried about damaging this beneficial insect in your garden, it’s probably a good idea to avoid plants that are toxic to bees. Focus on “safe plants” that are much better for bees compared to others. Is maintaining a bee-friendly garden worth it? Pollinators such as bees have seen a considerable population decline in recent years. This is a huge environmental issue. It’s a good idea to support the bee population by learning about flowers and plants that can be potentially harmful to bees.
The Problem of Toxic Nectar
If you’re a beekeeper, you may have heard about the problem of poisonous nectar. Certain sources of nourishment can have detrimental effects on bee colonies. This may sound strange considering that plants and pollinating insects are usually helping each other in the natural world. Resourceful honey bees grab the nectar and/or pollen from flowers and give the valuable contribution of pollination to the plant.
Bees try to collect the nectar from the best sources of food available. Depending on certain conditions, bees can be forced to use whatever is available. That can mean obtaining nectar from an unsafe flower or plant. Industrious bees will then transform that nectar into toxic honey that could be bad for both the bee and the human consuming it. However, keep in mind that it’s a pretty rare occurrence for bees to collect sufficient poisonous nectar to become a considerable problem.
It’s worth mentioning that even if harmful plants may be used by bees in honey production, the insects will usually find other nectar sources more desirable. The chances are low that bees get fixed on potentially bad plants considering that safe alternatives are typically in full bloom as well. As extreme environmental conditions like droughts become more common, it’s highly recommended to be aware of the plants that could be toxic to bees.
1. Yellow Jasmine
Although it features gorgeous blooms, the yellow jasmine plant can be very harmful to bees that consume its nectar and pollen. This plant is often found in the southern regions of the US and is considered a climbing vine. Although honeybees can be subjected to brood death when collecting the nectar of yellow jasmine, this plant is beneficial to bumblebees.
2. Summer Titi
Predominantly found in the southeastern US, summer or swamp Titi can be considered a very dangerous plant for bees. The nectar and pollen of this fragrant shrub are responsible for purple brood. When affected by this condition, the brood of bees gains a deep blue color and dies. Environmental factors can influence the severity of this condition.
3. California Buckeye
This plant can be a notable threat to bees during conditions of drought. California buckeye trees are normally great for native pollinators. However, the blooms can be deadly for domesticated honeybees. The brood can be severely affected by the quality of the nectar. Therefore, consider avoiding California buckeye plants.
Rhododendron isn’t usually a plant that you need to worry about in terms of toxicity to bees. The nectar can be harmful only to certain species of bees, usually those that aren’t found in the plant’s native habitat. The level of nectar toxicity isn’t significant. The more pressing problem is the resulting honey from Rhododendron. In most cases, this plant is safe to use in the garden because bees will tend to find better sources of nectar.
5. Mountain Laurel
Typically grown for its showy flowers, mountain laurel is similar to rhododendron because bees can produce poisonous honey from its nectar. However, this is rarely a problem considering that honey is diluted with various sources of nectar. If you like the look of this plant, it’s recommended to pay attention to it because mountain laurel is poisonous to humans and animals as well.