In 401 B.C. the general Xenophon was leading 10,000 Greek mercenaries back home after having fought with distinction against the grand army of the king of Persia.
As they hurried towards Asia Minor towards the black sea plundering and battling natives as they went a mystifying event befell them. While making camp and looking for food in the territory of Colchis, they notice extraordinary numbers of swarming bees. After feasting on honey raided from the beehives, wrote Xenophon in his history The Anabasis, the soldiers suddenly became "like intoxicated madmen" and soon collapsed by the thousands. Xenophon reported that his once proud troops sprawled over the ground like victims of a terrible rout. As though under a spell, the warriors were immobilized and a "great despondency prevailed" until they began to recover a few days later. Still feeling weak, they continued west to friendly territory. Unknown to Xenophon and his soldiers, the culprit was naturally toxic honey, produced by bees that collected nectar from rhododendron blossoms. Inhabitants of the Black Sea region knew all about their beautiful yet baneful rhododendron honey,
But strangers in their land eagerly devoured the tempting poisonous honeycombs.