Firstly, a big thankyou to sweetpea62 and alsoppdigitalart for their User Awards on my Wild Columbine. Thankyou Lin and John.
I love these plants, and this year this pink variety of mine gave me great delight.
I've given you a few snippets of information on this plant, but haven't told you about Mad Honey!
"A sip of toxic nectar could kill a horse, and render a soldier senseless".
Many rhododendron flowers are steeped in nectar and pollen, but some species produce a toxin called grayanotoxin which can taint the bees’ honey. Though harmless to bees, “mad honey” was known even in ancient times, when – according to folklore - it was surrepticiously employed to inebriate and vanquish entire armies.
Some species are poisonous to grazing animals, with some animals dying within a few hours of ingesting the plant, although most horses tend to avoid it if they have access to good forage.
Rhododendron honey, however, remains toxic for only a very short period. Honey that is stored in the comb, along with say the sycamore and bluebell, will have lost it's toxicity before the first extraction. Also, the bees themselves will consume most if not all of this nectar and honey for brood rearing during the spring and early summer build up.