Apocynum cannabinum… What is it worth?

A Honeybee on Dogbane in June          It seems that every year the Lord has plenty of new things to teach me about beekeeping. This year it has been so dry that I could not see how anything could be putting out nectar. No nectar is bad news for bees. Scouting around the hills three weeks ago I noticed honeybees working all over some plants similar to Milkweed with white flowers. Back at the house I identified it as Dogbane or “Indian Hemp” (Apocynum cannabinum). It is an unattractive weed. It is not a very good food source for wildlife. In fact, large amounts can be poisonous to Honeybees love to work on Dutch Clover unless there is a more abundant source of nectar nearby.sheep and cattle. It is not even an important honey plant . . . except in dry years. It is still dry now, nearly a month later, and Dogbane is still blooming like crazy and the bees are still all over it. It makes an excellent, light colored honey. Although I do not think we will be harvesting pure Dogbane honey, it has kept the bees going so that we could harvest the honey from the May “flow”.

It surprises me how many plants are valuable to bees even though they hold very little use from other perspectives. Sourwood trees, for instance, hold no value as a timber tree. Nor are they a significant food source for wildlife. Yet they reliably makes one of the best kinds of honey in flavor and color that reportedly does not granulate. A honeybee working on Red Clover is a rare sight. Normally the petals form a tube that is too long to allow honeybees to reach the nectar. Other kinds of bees enjoy it, but honeybees prefer other flowers. 

Dogbane, a worth-while weed.So not only do different plants bloom at different times of year, but there are also plants that bloom in different kinds of years. Each plant has an important purpose and role to fill. And each one of us has an even more important and meaningful purpose to fulfill with the life we are given; a special purpose that is different from every other life in the world. If you have ever felt like an unattractive weed, do not worry, do not give up, do not fight against that purpose or ignore it, but rather seek to know your purpose by seeking and knowing the One who gave it to you.


“. . . for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Heb. 11:6

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jer. 29:11

“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mat. 11:28-30


  1. James June 29, 2007 at 7:10 am #

    Thank you so much, Michael; I needed that message today. Just a while ago I wrote in my journal that I needed a “recharge” and what you said about God giving insignificant people a special purpose has really motivated me to continue on. God bless your study of His creation!

  2. Daniel June 30, 2007 at 9:04 am #

    Brilliant analogy, Michael! That was so encouraging. The Lord has been reminding me lately to remain content with what God wants to do with my life, and not to compare myself with others–God has a different plan of equal importance for everyone!

  3. Joshua July 3, 2007 at 3:18 am #

    Your post reminds me of an inspiring card I recently received from you all. When we wait on the Lord and keep His way, He promises that we will inherit the land. Thank you for the reminder.

    What a detailed Creator we serve!

  4. Robert July 10, 2007 at 11:40 pm #

    Michael, thanks for sharing that analogy. You are right on! I really enjoy seeing how you relate facts and experiences from nature to the Christian life.

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