MAPLE (Acer spp.) Maples are the only large trees with two simple leaves at a node. They occur throughout United States and southern Canada and furnish the first nectar and pollen in many states. Red Maple (A. rubrum) is the earliest blooming species opening its flowers on the first warm day in February and March in the central states. Sugar Maple (A. saccharum) blooms a month later when the weather is better and bees occasionally store a small surplus but most of the honey is used in brood rearing.
MIGNONETTE (Reseda odorata). A very fragrant garden plant with clusters of inconspicuous flowers which are much visited by bees in the Old World. In California, mignonette is also reported to be valuable to bees. The honey has a pleasant odor and flavor. This is one of the plants that beekeepers have often been urged to plant but in the northern states it does not usually attract bees. However, in Kootenay, British Columbia, where almost everyone has a hive or two, each garden grows a patch of mignonette which is said to be quite valuable for the bees.
MISTLETOE (Phoradendron flavescens). A parasitic green plant growing on a wide variety of deciduous trees in the southern states north to New Jersey and Kansas. It blooms in late winter as early as January in Texas, and produces a light amber honey which is very sticky and hard to extract. It is considered valuable as an early stimulant especially in Texas.
MUSCATEL (Ampelopsis cordata). A woody vine with large heart-shaped leaves and clusters of small greenish flowers, found from the Gulf coast north to Virginia, Kentucky, and Nebraska in low swampy ground. It yields considerable light amber, well-flavored honey in Arkansas and adjacent states.
OAK (Quercus spp.). There are over 30 species in the United States all of which are wind-pollinated and lack nectaries. Bees collect pollen and also honeydew from plant lice and oak galls.
POISON IVY and POISON OAK (Rhus radicans and R. diversiloba). One or both are common over much of the United States. They both are much visited by bees. In California and Oregon poison oak yields a small surplus of a well-flavored honey which is free from poisonous properties. Xavier Widmer of Medford, Oregon, believes that eating this honey will eventually make one immune to the poison of the plants.
RATTAN-VINE (Berchemia scandens). A long, trailing vine with clusters of small greenish flowers which grows to the top of trees. It ranges from Virginia and southern Missouri south to Florida and Texas, and produces an amber honey with a good flavor and body. In Texas it is sold under its floral name by A. W. Bulay, and is locally popular in spite of its dark color. Average surpluses are usually 15 to 35 pounds.
RED BAY (Persea Borbonia). A small tree in Florida sometimes yields a small surplus of fair honey. Woodrow Whidden at Titusville, Florida, told the author that he made 5 barrels of honey from Red Bay in 1952 and sold it under its floral name. The avocado (P. americana) yields some honey in southern Florida and also in California.
SEA-MYRTLE (Baccharis halimifolia). A much branched shrub up to 10 feet tall with pyramidal clusters of pale greenish or yellow-green, composite flowers. Sea-myrtle grows along the coast from Massachusetts south to Florida and west along the Gulf Coast to Texas and Mexico. It blooms in the fall and is considered valuable for building up the colonies for winter in the southern part of its range.
SKUNK CABBAGE (Symplocarpus foetidus). Low herbs with a spike of greenish flowers inclosed by a great, thick leaf (the spathe) splotched with purple, brown, and yellow-green with an opening on the side through which the bees can enter. The earliest source of pollen in many eastern states blooming from late February to early April. The late G. M. Doolittle valued skunk cabbage very highly as an early source of pollen.