acres under glass. Many colonies are also required for the same purpose in New Jersey, Ohio, and several other states. Pollination was formerly effected by hand; but bees have proved more efficient pollinators, and enormous crops of cucumbers are obtained, which are more uniform in size and shape. Unfortunately the bees often beat against the glass in their efforts to escape into the open, until they fall exhausted to the floor and die by hundreds. Many also perish from lack of sufficient stores, so that, as a matter of course, new colonies are required each year. The cucumber has been in cultivation in India for over 3000 years, and was known to the Greeks and Romans. According to De Candolle, it was one of the fruits of Egypt regretted by the Israelites in the desert.
Muskmelons and cantaloupes are cultivated chiefly in New Jersey, Delaware, southern Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, and California. In the northern states the watermelon acreage is largest in New Jersey, Delaware, Indiana, southern Illinois, and eastern Iowa. In the southern states the largest acreage is in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, and eastern Texas. There is also a large area in Imperial Valley, California. These species yield nectar freely and for a long time, often until frost.
CURRANT (Ribes).—More than fifty species of currants and gooseberries are widely distributed in North America. They bloom early and furnish pollen and nectar. The cultivated varieties occur chiefly in the northeastern states. They are largely dependent on bees for pollination, and in their absence would produce little fruit. The Missouri gooseberry (R. gracile) is considered a fair honey plant in the middle states.
DANDELION (Taraxicum officinale). — Other English names are lion's tooth, blowball, yellow gowan, and priest’s crown. Widely distributed over Europe, Asia, North America, the Arctic regions, and in many other parts of the civilized world. The dandelion is a better honey plant than is commonly supposed. On many farms in Ontario and Quebec it produces more honey in spring than any other plant. At Ottawa, if the weather is warm and fair during the last two weeks of May, a strong colony will store 30 to 40 pounds in the super. In Vermont, at Middlebury, the brood-chambers are at times packed with dandelion honey; and when the supers are put on the hives it is carried above to the detriment of the white-clover surplus. Comb made during dandelion bloom is colored by the pollen a beautiful shade of yellow. At Boulder, Colorado, it is common for the hives to be filled with dandelion honey, and a few beekeepers have extracted and placed it on the market. A surplus of dandelion honey has also been reported from central Illinois and western Iowa. But while always valuable for pollen, in many localities it yields little nectar, as in northern Ohio and southern Maine.
The honey is deep yellow, and sometimes granulates in a week or two after extracting. It has a strong not to say rank flavor, with the aroma of the flowers, and probably would not be liked by persons accustomed to a mild honey. It improves with age. Owing to its tendency to granulate it would not be a desirable winter food for bees; but, as it is gathered so early, none is left by fall.
The dandelion belongs to the Compositae, and is related to the hawkweed and chicory. The head, or capitulum, consists of from 100 to 200 florets. The corolla of each floret is strap-shaped, but at the base unites to form a short tube which holds the nectar. (See Frontispiece.) At night and in damp weather the head closes so that there is little visible except a protecting whorl of green bracts. The pollen and nectar are thus completely sheltered from dew and rain. In fair weather the hour of opening in the morning varies from 6 to 8 or 9 o’clock, and the time of closing from 2 p. m. until sunset, according to the month and latitude. The flowers open much later in September than in mid-summer, and in northern than in southern regions. The dandelions often bloom a second time in the fall, but much less freely than in spring. (Fig. 54.)
As the nectar and pollen are readily accessible, a great variety of insects are attracted, and more than one hundred different species of bees and flies have been observed seeking the flower food of this species. The supply of nectar is usually