As I cycle my bicycle along the country lanes I see large swaths of Rhododendrons. In bloom they are a flashy advertisement of flouncy herbage. Their buds are just forming now and will shortly open in a showy display of pink which look specular in a photograph. However, their beautiful display hides that they are a non-native, invasive species in this country and that the honey bees make from the nectar of Rhododendron will make the consumer ill. I have taken a dislike to them because of this but now I’m shocked to find that the news is worse. Rhododendron nectar can kill some species of honeybee!
“Botanists from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Natural Sciences have discovered that the nectar from a common, non-native plant, is toxic to some Irish bees. And that “The nectar proved to be extremely toxic to the native Irish honeybee species as it killed individuals just hours after they had consumed even the smallest doses.” Toxic Tastes – Ireland’s Bees and Non-Native Rhododendron Nectar.
Of course like most invasive species, they are not easy to eradicate. Killarney National Park has been tackling the issue for years Rhododendron: An ecological disaster in Killarney National Park and it’s just been announced that Connemara National Park efforts are receiving the help of a €500,000 fund towards clearance of the invasive species Rhododendron.
A terrible beauty has wonderful photos and provides background to their introduction.
Control of Rhododendron
Irish Forest Service The Control of Rhododendron in Native Woodlands PDF
UK Forest Research has an article Improving strategies for long-term eradication of rhododendron
Alternative plants to attract pollinators
Links to lists of suitable plants.
• Gardeners World BBC magazine
• World Bee Day – Best honey plants to help save bees
• 22 Common Plants that Attract Bees!
Tips for planting from Bird Watching HQ
• Group plants and flowers together
• Pay attention to bloom times
• Take care of your plants
• Limit or eliminate pesticides