HORSEMINT (Monarda punctata). — The genus Monarda, which was named for Nicolas Monardes, a Spanish physician and botanist who lived in the 16th century, contains about 15 species, all natives of North America. The most valuable species to the beekeeper is the common horsemint M. punctata. It is a perennial herb with lance-shaped leaves and two-lipped yellowish flowers spotted with purple, which grows in sandy fields and prairies from New York to Wisconsin and southward to Florida and Texas. In western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota it is common on the sandy jackpine lands and oak barrens, where it yields nectar abundantly and is very attractive to honeybees. In Iowa it occurs only in the sandy section along the Mississippi, Wapsipinicon, Cedar, and Iowa rivers. It is likewise listed as a honey plant in western Mississippi and northwestern Louisiana. In Texas it is an important source of surplus.
Horsemint was first brought into notice a few years ago, when it was highly recommended to beekeepers and the seeds sold quite extensively. Subsequently it was almost forgotten until large crops of honey from this source obtained on the low alluvial lands bordering on the Mississippi River attracted attention. Afterwards wonderful reports came from different parts of Texas. While horsemint is found in nearly every county in eastern Texas, it is most abundant on the Black and Grand Prairies. According to the reports of hundreds of Texas beekeepers, it ranks second in importance among the honey plants of that state, and it is estimated that about 20 per cent, of the total surplus comes from this source. Beginning in June, or a little earlier, it blooms from four to six weeks, or if there is much rainy weather for a much longer time. The surplus in the cotton belt is largely dependent on the horsemint, and the average per colony in commercial apiaries ranges from 20 to 100 pounds. But it is not reliable every year, and in hot dry seasons the flow greatly decreases. The extracted honey is clear light amber in color, a little darker than the comb, and of good body. It has a pronounced flavor, and has been compared with the basswood honey of the North. Horsemint honey is preferred to white clover honey by many persons, but it is the general opinion that it has a little too strong a flavor.
In the Black Prairie region of Texas lemon mint (Monarda citriodora), an annual with pink or nearly white flowers, is abundant. In localities where there is much lime in the soil the flowers are bright red. The corolla tube is about the same length as that of the preceding species and the nectar is readily reached by honeybees. M. clinopodioides is also very common on the dry plains of Texas. The form of the flower and the time of blooming are nearly the same as in M. punctata. There are also several other species of horsemint growing in Texas, the nectar of which can be easily gathered by honeybees.
But a part of the species of this genus have long corolla-tubes and are adapted to insects with a much longer tongue than the honeybee, so that even if common they are of little value to the apiarist. Bradbury’s Monarda (M. Bradburiana), occurs on dry hills in Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas. The pink flowers have a tube 18 mm. long and are adapted to female bumblebees, but butterflies and hummingbirds also are common visitors. The tube at times fills with nectar for more than half of its length, and, as its mouth flares sufficiently to admit the head of the honeybee for 5 mm., worker bees in large numbers have been seen gathering the nectar. Wild bergamont (M. fistulosa) is another bumblebee-flower. It is found abundantly by the roadside and on dry hills from Maine and Minnesota to Florida and Louisiana. The corolla-tube is 18 mm. long, or a little less than three-quarters of an inch. The pink flowers attract many butterflies. Wasps bite holes in the base of the tubes in order to obtain the nectar, and honeybees very often make use of these perforations to gain a part of the sweet liquid. Bee balm or Oswego tea (M. didyma), with scarlet flowers, also has very long corolla-tubes. The horsemints belong to the mint family, or Labiatae.
HUAJILLA (Acacia Berlandieri). — Southern Texas is a semi-arid country with many days of intense sunshine and an average annual rainfall which ranges from 16 to 26 inches, according to the locality. The soil is sandy, gravelly, or rocky, and the surface is partly level and partly broken by ridges and hills. The