“The foundation of success in beekeeping,” says W. Z. Hutchinson, “is the location. Unless a man has a proper location he had better relinquish beekeeping as a specialty, or else seek the right location.” No amount of labor and skill will produce results where there is no source of supply. No one should enter extensively upon the production of honey without first inquiring in regard to the flora, on which he must depend for a marketable surplus. There is a small number of states in which commercial beekeeping is profitable throughout their entire extent; but in most eases there are only a few sections well adapted to this industry, while the remainder of the territory will support a much smaller number of colonies. The importance to American beekeepers of a thorough knowledge of the honey plants of this country can not, therefore, be overestimated. The need of more information has long been generally recognized; and more or less complete lists and bulletins have been published by a number of states of the chief nectar-yielding plants found within their borders, while others have similar lists in preparation. But the honey floras of the majority of the states still remain very imperfectly known, and there is evidently a demand for a book which will cover the entire United States and Canada.
But it is a list of plants actually valuable to bee culture that is wanted, not merely a list of species which secrete nectar. There are thousands of different kinds of nectariferous flowers which are so rare that they are of no practical importance to the beekeeper. Cultivated herbs and trees introduced from foreign countries, which there is no reason to suppose will ever become common, should not be included in the list. Also flowers adapted to insects with very long tongues, which produce nectar inaccessible to honeybees, should be omitted. In selecting the honey plants described in the following pages the technical as well as the practical point of view has received careful investigation.
Flowers valuable to bee culture for pollen only have been strictly separated from those valuable chiefly for nectar. Many beekeepers have failed to observe that there are many blossoms which are nectarless, and this fact has been the cause of numberless mistakes. If a plant was common and frequently visited by bees either for pollen or honey-dew, many beekeepers have been prone to conclude that it yielded “some honey,” no matter how improbable such an assumption might be ecologically. The grasses, sedges, rushes, and the millions of acres of cultivated grains must of necessity depend on wind-pollination; for, even if they yielded nectar, the number of flower-visiting insects is wholly insufficient to pollinate them. It should not be concluded in the case of a doubtful species that it yields nectar, until the nectar has actually been observed and the nectary located in the flower under the microscope.
The nomenclature of the seventh edition of Gray’s New Manual of Botany has been given the preference, which has permitted the continued use of many old familiar Latin names. In the case of a number of varieties in the southern states, which have been raised to the rank of species of doubtful validity, I have retained the older names. The plants have been arranged alphabetically according to their English names, as this arrangement is more convenient for reference than the grouping of the species in families, and renders it unnecessary constantly to consult an index. While no effort has been spared to make the descriptions strictly scientific, technical terms have been avoided so far as possible. Where a plant has more than one common name, cross-references have been given.
The figures of flowers, which are usually of natural size, are nearly all original, and were photographed by the author from specimens often obtained with much difficulty and expense. For the benefit of photographers it may be stated that panchromatic plates and a Wratten ray filter, No. 3, were used to preserve the proper color values in monochrome; and that to obtain details U. S. diaphragm 128 and a long exposure were employed. All of the work was done indoors with a vertical camera stand. With the aid of the illustrations the identification of many species should be comparatively easy. The two figures of Coccidae are from Comstock’s Manual for the Study of Insects, and are used with the permission of Professor Comstock. The maps, showing the geographical distribution of alfalfa, cotton, the citrus fruits, and other plants, are of great interest and are worth many pages of description. They are taken from the Geography of the World’s Agriculture, by V. C. Finch and O. E. Baker. The maps relating to the United States were prepared by Mr. Baker, Agriculturist to the Department of Agriculture, and are reproduced here with his approval. In a few cases they are reduced in size, or given only in part.
To the publications and personal letters of the following distinguished apiarists, M. C. Richter, L. F. Scholl, H. B. Parks, H. A. Scullen, Frank Stirling, R. B. Willson, and F. C. Pellett, the author is indebted for important information in regard to many honey plants. Much of the material in Chapters IV and V is taken from the author’s book, The Flower and the Bee: Plant Life and Pollination, and his technical papers on the ecology and pollination of flowers, as well as many unpublished notes, have been frequently quoted. A very voluminous literature, relating to the geology, physical features, agriculture, floras, and bee culture of the various states, has been very carefully examined.
In the preparation of Part IV, Mr. E. R. Root, President of The A. I. Root Company, has taken a very active interest. During the preparation of this volume Mr. Root traveled over 30,000 miles in the western, southwestern, and southeastern states, during which time he was in constant correspondence with the author, and has in a long series of letters communicated to him the results of his observations and numerous interviews with many successful beekeepers. The entire manuscript has, indeed, been read by Mr. Root, and to a great extent he is responsible for the descriptions of the different kinds of honey. To Mr. Frank C. Pellett, Assistant Editor of the American Bee Journal, and author of American Honey Plants, I am also indebted for much valuable information. Mr. Pellett has read the descriptions of Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa, of which latter state he was for many years Bee Inspector. The author wishes to place on record his sincere appreciation of the assistance and encouragement received from Mr. H. G. Rowe, Managing Editor of Gleanings in Bee Culture, which has been an important factor in the preparation of the book. Without the generous co-operation of hundreds of beekeepers the descriptions of the different states could never have been written. They have assisted me not only by describing their personal experience in beekeeping, but in many instances have gathered additional data and have furnished specimens of the honey plants for identification.
Finally there remains the great pleasure of acknowledging the assistance of Dr. E. F. Phillips, formerly In Charge of Bee Culture at Washington, D. C., now Professor of Bee Culture at Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y., who has read the descriptions of the entire forty-eight states, and has given the author the benefit of his investigations and extensive knowledge of beekeeping in every part of the Union. Information of especial value has been received in the case of New York, Indiana, New Mexico, and the Pacific Coast States.
Waldoboro, Maine. JOHN H. LOVELL.
NECTAR: ITS SECRETION, PROTECTION, AND DISTRIBUTION
Temperature and proper conditions of soil and atmosphere, or what is commonly called “the season,” have a thousand times more bearing on the surplus than the amount of bloom or the number of colonies in a single apiary.
—E. W. Alexander.