What do people know about PA coming from borage (the bee plant!)? Excessive amounts of PA are attributable to cancer and other illnesses. Do we need to worry about it in Australia? I have borage (which contains Pyrrolizidine Alkaloid) growing and want to know if I should pull it out?
Pyrrolizidine alkaloid is also very high in Paterson’s Curse, a common weed across Australia.
Unless your bees are foraging on monocultures of pyrrolizidine alkaloids rich plants you do not have to worry too much. Beekeepers that have a lot of that I think have to dilute their honey from other foraging grounds to reduce PA to acceptable levels.
Many thanks for your reply Honeyeater. It makes sense re the dilution, our bees have borage but then 75 fruiting trees, innumerable garden plants, vegie garden and other goodies too! I think we will be fine re the PA!
I used to truck my hives to Mudgee, Bathurst and Oberon in NSW to work the Patterson’s Curse at the beginning of Spring at a time nothing else was flowering but it burnt off with the warmer weather after a couple of months so the hives were moved back to the mountains and orchards. Maybe if there is an issue with PA it is already diluted in the hives with the mix of foraging?
Back then the buyer was only interested in how many 205 liter (44 gallon) drums you had to be picked up. The odd time he would ask in passing where the honey had come from, but the answer was always ‘it came from my hives’, my mentor always said to tell them nothing. Never asked what the bees had been foraging on but with the location and time of year I guess he wasn’t completely stupid. I guess there is a lot more concern about the honey but with the little research I have done on the internet there is very little reliable info about PA and acceptable content or effect in honey.
Many thanks for your reply Peter. Fortunately with only 2 hives we only give our honey to family and friends! I think you are correct too in the fact our honey would be diluted because of foraging on more than just borage - Paterson’s Curse has been mostly eradicated in our area. I wonder how one does a test for the PA?
Borage was popular during the Middle Ages as a vegetable and salad herb and is still used today for culinary and medicinal purposes. The flowers, leaves and oil prepared from the seeds are all able to be utilized for different purposes.
What was popular can easily fall out of fashion. Sure it super doses it might do harm, as does most things we eat, but as the honey is a mix of foraging and with a balanced diet more likely you will get an ulcer worrying about it. Cheers
Haha too true! Thanks Peter, I have ceased to worry!
Might be of interest to you, on the ABC this morning a story about research into bee venom killing breast cancer cells, still in the research stage but looking very positive.
Yes I saw that re the bee venom, I usually get stung at least once when seeing to our hives, so I should be just fine!