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Hens and azaleas

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Hello all,

I got home today to discover my well intentioned partner has planted some azalea bushes around the hen's paddock. How worried should I be? Should I just move them?

I know azaleas can be very toxic if eaten and, in the base of bees, can even make the honey toxic for consumption too - which makes me think the eggs wouldn't be great to eat were the hens to eat the azaleas.

Anyone else been in this situation? Do I move the shrubs?



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This is a new one on me, but I have done a bit of googling, and you are right about the honey.  My sense as a beekeeper is that unless you have lots of azalea/rhodies I wouldn't be unduly concerned as bees forage so widely in most cases the percentage of 'bad' honey would be tiny.  My sense is also that the poison wouldn't transfer to eggs, given the quantities of plant material which might be ingested by a hen.  The leaves of an azalea are quite unpleasant, hard and sticky, and the whole plant is shrubby, not soft, so I wouldn't have thought many birds would be attracted to them.  However, as ever, this is down to personal choice, and if you are worried, and are likely to continue to be worried, I would dig them up and move them somewhere where the birds can't get at them.  If its any consolation to your OH, I had no idea these plants could be dangerous, so it could have been me planting them, I don't think the toxicity is particularly widely known either in relation to bees or hens.

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If the leaves are unpleasant then the hens probably won't want to eat them anyway (once they have had an experimental' peck) so I wouldn't worry unduly. However, might be worth keeping an eye out and, if you see areas of obvious pecking on the bushes, relocate them for peace of mind. However, it was lovely of your OH to get on with the job in hand - wish mine bloomin' would 🤣!

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