Honey is that wonderfully sweet and sticky substance made by bees using nectar or pollen collected from flowers. It is nutritious and is the only food that contains all the substances necessary to sustain life. It can also be used as a medicine. So if honey is such an awesome and nutritious food, how can someone become mad or even die from ingesting it?
honey on biscuits, public domain
What happens if the nectar or pollen used to make the honey comes from poisonous flowers? The honey is then just as toxic as the flowers the nectar came from.
The very first written account of rhododendron or azalea poisoning was in the 4th century B.C. In 401 B.C., Turkish locals gave Spartan soldiers honeycombs to eat. The honey had been made from rhododendron nectar. Those who ate just a little wandered around as though they were drunk. Those who consumed a lot acted like madmen.
What exactly would the effects of ingesting honey made from rhododendron or azalea nectar be? Within six hours after eating it, the person could feel nausea and physical irritation. Drooling, vomiting, and an increase in tears could be experienced. The person might unhappily discover that he is unable to move due to paralysis. The pulse and blood pressure could drop dangerously low. The person could be overcome by diarrhea. In the worst case scenario, the person could experience seizures, coma, and death.
All parts of the rhododendron or azalea shrub are poisonous. If you make tea from its leaves, then the tea is also deadly.
Another poisonous flower that bees like to get their nectar from is the oleander or Jericho rose. The reaction time to ingesting oleander is immediate. Oleander is a cardiac stimulator. It can cause the person who ingests it to sweat profusely, vomit, have diarrhea, or lose consciousness. It can also cause respiratory paralysis and death.
All parts of the oleander shrub Ė the nectar, the petals, and the leaves Ė can be deadly when ingested.
The leaves, twigs, flowers, and pollen from the mountain laurel are poisonous. Reaction time to the poison starts in about six hours. If death occurs, it could take from twelve hours to several days. Those ingesting any of those will suffer from severe gastrointestinal distress. The eyes, nose, and mouth will water. The breathing will be labored and the heartbeat slowed. Kidney failure is possible. If the reaction is really bad, convulsions, paralysis, coma, and death could be the result.
Bees do gather pollen from this flower, and they will make honey from its pollen. Ill effects are rarely suffered from eating honey made from mountain laurel pollen though because the resulting honey is very bitter. Who wants to eat bitter honey?
How could your villain use honey to kill? Letís say your villain isnít known to be a bad person, he is known for the wonderful honey that his bees make. People will pay a lot for honey made by his hives of bees. But all of his hives are not known about. He has a special hive of bees that is never seen by anyone except him. Around this hive he has planted rhododendron and oleander. The resulting honey only goes to those who he wishes to do away with. His list of people that he thinks should die is rather extensive.
The villain could even give the intended victim a double dose of the poison. Tea can be made from the rhododendron or oleander shrubs. A cup of tea made from the leaves of one of these poisonous flowers and sweetened with honey made from their poisonous nectar would ensure that the intended victim received a large enough dose of the poison to do some fatal damage. If it was administered frequently over a period of time, it would surely be fatal and allow the victim to experience a very sweet death.