Quantcast

Toxicity of Lime trees

Beekeeping Forum

Help Support Beekeeping Forum:

rwestoll 

New Bee
Joined
Aug 18, 2009
Messages
38
Reaction score
0
Location
Cumbria
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
12
I am confused about the lime species which are poisonous to bees.
The BBKA leaflet ' Trees for Bees' lists the following species as suitable for planting:

Medium Sized: Tilia mongolica (Early), Tilia euchlora (mid season) and Tilia miquelana (late flowering)

Large size Tilia maximowicziana (Early) Tilia insularis (mid season) Tilia tomentosa (late)

They also state that Tilia petiolaris (late ) is toxic to bees.

Hilliers manual of trees and shrubs list Tilia euchlora as narcotic to bees and that petiolaris is a subspecies of tomentosa, which suggests that tomentosa is also toxic to bees.

'Trees and shrubs valuable to bees' by M.F.Mountain lists all Tilia species, especially euchlora as being suitable for planting for bees

Wedmore's 'Manual of Beekeeping' warns against the use of tomentosa and petiolaris

Ted Hooper in his 'Guide to Bees and Honey' warns about petiolaris and obicularis and again in his 'The Bee friendly garden' says petiolaris, euchlora, tomentosa and orbicularis are all toxic to a greater or lesser degree.

It looks as if petiolaris and tomentosa are definitely to be avoided, but apparently all limes might be toxic to bees to a greater or lesser degree, differing from year to year.

Does anyone have any definitive ideas and if any more of the 60 species and subspecies of Tilia which are available to buy in this country are dangerous for bees. The reason I'm asking is that I want to plant a grove of limes with as many different 'safe' species as possible.

There are also issues with the toxicity of Horse Chestnuts Aesculus hippocastrum particularly the red flowered ones,Aesculus carnea. Isn't it ironic that two of the most important nectar trees have toxicity issues?
 

admin 

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2008
Messages
6,392
Reaction score
3
Location
Hampshire uk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
6
When you say Lime is narcotic I do remember reading that the bees get stoned when feeding on some lime and are not allowed back into the hive until sober.
 

Skyhook 

Queen Bee
Joined
May 19, 2010
Messages
3,054
Reaction score
0
Location
Dorset
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
5
I suspect the reason there have been so few replies is that everyone alse is as confused as you. I did some reading on this a while back, and a lot of the sources directly contradict each other. In that situation I usually check as many sources as possible, then let them vote- eg if 4 sources say a species is safe and one says it isn't, it probably is. I would say cordata and europa probably are safe, euchlora probably isn't, and that covers 80% of the trees they're likely to encounter.

Part of the problem is the way it works. The bees feed and get slightly stoned. The may fall, or have to land, on the ground. If it's warm, they will probably fly back when they wake up. If it's cold they'll die, so the results will vary from a single tree.
 

BeeNice 

House Bee
Joined
Jun 7, 2010
Messages
403
Reaction score
0
Location
Sheffield
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
4 now
Hi, you may plant bee friendly plants, you neighbour will plant anything he wishes, your bees will go to the best sourse of nectar. You have no real control over what the bees feed on. As for the Lime grove... good luck and choose well.
regards
Steven
 

happyculteur 

New Bee
Joined
Feb 3, 2010
Messages
83
Reaction score
45
Location
alpes de haute provence,france altitude 4000 ft.
Hive Type
warre
Lime constitutes my main flow- I have over 100 lime trees within a mile radius of my hives. The poisonous limes are tilia oliveri;t.euchora;t.tomentosa;and t.dasystila, though I believe(without being certain) that their toxicity applies to other bees rather than honeybees. Anyway, there are 2 varieties that are worth planting from a melliferous point of view: tilia platyphyllos and tilia cordata (the large-leaved lime and the small-leaved lime to give them their good old English names.
The flowering period is short, and nectar production fickle-the right conditions are necessary i.e. heat, dryness in the air, and wetness at the roots. But when they give, the resulting honey (which is often a mix of honey & honeydew) is excellent and crystallises very slowly with smallish crystals. Anyway, in the bad years you still have the flowers that you can dry to make a very pleasant *tea*.
Hope that helps.
 

Erichalfbee 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jul 23, 2009
Messages
19,457
Reaction score
1,394
Location
Ceredigion
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
7
Anyway, in the bad years you still have the flowers that you can dry to make a very pleasant *tea*.
And you can make an excellent Limeflower "Champagne" similar to the Elderflower variety.
 

rwestoll 

New Bee
Joined
Aug 18, 2009
Messages
38
Reaction score
0
Location
Cumbria
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
12
We too have quite a few large lime trees around and about and have planted Large leaved and small leaved limes around the farm over the past few years. That was even before I got my bees.

I didn't know about T. dasystyla being narcotic.

What I am trying to do is plant the lesser known species which might spread the lime flowering season as suggested by the BBKA leaflet which I referred to. I realise that bees are fickle feeders, but I know the sound of bees feeding on lime suggests that it is a favourite. One beekeeper friend calls limes 'motor bike trees'! Unfortunately the lime here failed to produce much this year - was it to do with the hard winter or the lack of spring rainfall - I don't know.

I'll definitely try the limeflower champagne though

Many thanks for your answers
 

Latest posts

Top