Toxic Honey?

Previously, I have written about honey in some countries, being contaminated (or mixed) – especially with corn syrup.  Parts of the USA in particular, have raised concerns about this. 

You can read about it here.

I encourage readers to buy honey from a local beekeeper they can trust, where possible.

It is known that the species of plant the honey bees are foraging on, can affect the taste, colour, thickness and fragrance of the honey.  For example, heather produces dark, gelatinous honey.  Oil seed rape can also causes honey to crystallise quickly.

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However, it is actually possible for bees to produce honey that is toxic for humans, or to produce honey that is bitter tasting to humans.

If you purchase honey to eat, I would not worry about this, however – because where honey is produced for human consumption, beekeepers will take care when placing hives. 

The source of this information below is a paper:  - The ecological significance of toxic nectar - Lynn S. Adler (OIKOS 91: 409 – 420. Copenhagen 2000) - see right). 

(Please note, some of these plants may be present in your country, or not, but this website receives visits from many different countries).

Plant Species
& Family

Effect on


Aguaria spp. (Ericaceae)

Andromeda spp (Ericaceae)

Kalmia spp.(Ericaceae)

Rhododendron flavum

Rhododendron ponticum

Paullinia australis (Sapindaceae)

Honey toxic to humans

Eckert 1946, Mussen 1979

Azalea pontica

Kalmia latifolia (Ericaceae)

Honey toxic to humans

Kebler 1896

Euphorbia spp. (Euphorbiaceae)

Honey bitter to humans, induced nausea

Pryce-Jones 1942

Arbutus unedo  (Ericaceae)

Honey bitter to humans, induced nausea

Pryce-Jones 1942

Ledum Palustre (Ericaceae)

Honey toxic to humans

Kozlova (1957)

Senecio jacobaea (Asteraceae)

Honey bitter to humans

Deinzer et al. 1977

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