first time in May, and again in July. On the arid deserts it is often the chief dependence of the beekeeper. At Wellton, Arizona, it is the most reliable honey plant for surplus. At Polonias, in the eastern part of Yuma County, there is an apiary of 65 colonies which stores about a 60-pound can of honey per colony from mesquite. In mid-summer it becomes very hot and dry on the deserts; and, as there are no other honey plants and no honey flow of any kind, the bees must depend on the stores gathered earlier in the season or die of starvation. Along the Colorado River in the eastern portion of Imperial and Riverside counties, California, there is an extensive growth of mesquite which yields a large honey flow. The Liguanea Plain on the south side of the Island of Jamaica is largely covered with another species of mesquite (Prosopis juliflora).
MESQUITE IN THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS
In the Hawaiian Islands the mesquite (P. juliflora) is not only the chief but almost the only source of floral honey. Here it is called algaroba, or in the native language keawe. The history of honey plants offers no more interesting chapter than that describing the introduction of this tree and its rapid increase, until to-day it yields annually large quantities of algaroba honey and has rendered beekeeping profitable in sections of the islands where previously little honey was stored. In earlier times the apiaries seldom exceeded 50 colonies in number, and were located near forest trees growing in the mountains, which yielded comparatively little nectar.
About 1828 the seed was brought from the Royal Gardens of Paris by Father Bachelot, founder of the Roman Catholic Mission; and until a few years ago a tree raised from this seed was still standing on Fort Street in Honolulu. Once introduced, the mesquite increased with remarkable rapidity. It thrives from the level of the sea-coast. where the spray of the waves falls upon the foliage, up to an altitude of 2000 feet; but it succeeds best at a slight elevation in the semi-arid climate. The algaroba forests are confined chiefly to the lee or western side of the islands. The reason for this is that the windward, or eastern side, is exposed to trade winds, which blow with few exceptions during the entire year. As a result of these winds the climate on one side of the islands is entirely different from that on the other side, even in the case of an island that is only a few miles across. On the windward side there is a heavy rainfall, in some places in excess of 200 inches annually, and at times it may reach 400. On the lee side there is less rain, or the climate may be so dry that the land is little better than a barren desert. Where there is much rain the mesquite is entirely absent, or does not thrive.
On the western side of the islands there are vast forests of algaroba trees, covering thousands of acres of land. In the island of Oahu alone there are not far from 17,000 acres. Cattle are continually disseminating the seed, and the number of trees is also largely increased by systematic planting. Prior to October of the year 1916 there were planted over 100,000 trees in Oahu. It is estimated that a tree with a 30-foot spread of branches will produce 2 1/2 pounds of honey in a normal year. One strip of algaroba forest in Molokai supports nearly 2000 colonies of bees. Of the 600 tons of honey produced in the Hawaiian Islands, more than 200 tons come from the flowers of the algaroba. The trees begin to bloom when they are from four to six years old. There are two periods of blooming: the first period begins in March or later, according to the locality of the island, and lasts until August; in Hawaii the second period of blooming ends about the first of October.
The honey is water-white, about as thick as that from white clover, and possesses an agreeable though peculiar flavor; but it is suitable for a table honey. It granulates soon after it is gathered. Honey which has granulated in the combs is placed in huge solar extractors, which will hold several hundred combs at a time. The sun’s heat liquefies the honey without darkening it; and it also melts most of the wax, which is extracted from the “slum gum” by the usual methods.
The trees grow rapidly and attain a height of 45 to 50 feet with a diameter of 2 feet or more. The flowers and pods are similar to those of the Texas mesquite. The yellow pods are eagerly eaten by cattle, and the crop in Oahu is estimated at 25,000 tons.