Very few beekeepers are acquainted with the conditions controlling bee culture outside of the localities in which they have engaged in this industry. This statement was recently confirmed by one of the most prominent apiarists in the United States, who added that he himself did not know in what section of the state in which he had lived for fifty years the largest surplus of honey was produced. There are large areas in this country, the adaptation of which to beekeeping is wholly unknown to the general public, and in regard to which hardly a line has ever been printed. A few states have published descriptions of the honey floras found within their borders. Occasionally a practical beekeeper has prepared a list of the more important species of plants supposed to be valuable as sources of honey. But there is very little literature in existence to-day to guide the beekeeper in his choice of a location, or to inform him as to the results he may expect to obtain in the different states. Yet there is no phase of bee culture in which the majority of beekeepers express a greater interest, nor one which more closely concerns their welfare.
From a commercial point of view it is desirable to review the conditions of beekeeping in the United States by states rather than by natural or physical units. But the state boundary lines are artificial lines, and seldom coincide with the lines dividing the physiographic regions. On the contrary, they often divide into two parts areas which are uniform in climate, soil, and honey flora. But it is by states that statistics relating to the number of beekeepers and colonies of bees, and the amount of honey and wax produced, are gathered. Each state has its own associations, conventions, inspectors, and laws for the promotion and protection of beekeeping. Reports on bee culture, honey plants, prices, sales, weather, and general crops, are issued by states. Bulletins and articles treating of bee culture commonly confine their attention to state areas. The limits and positions of the states can easily be determined by reference to any school geography, while the boundary lines of regions based on their physical features are given only in special works. From a strictly practical point of view, therefore, it will be more convenient and helpful to gather and arrange the data on beekeeping by states.
While the beekeeper seeking a good location for the production of honey will give his attention chiefly to such artificial divisions as states and counties, the distribution of the honey plants is clearly determined, not by political boundaries, but by altitude, rainfall, soil, and temperature. The eastern third of the United States, for example, is covered largely with a hardwood forest due to its ample rainfall and humid summers; while the great forests of the western states consist mainly of conifers adapted to dry summers. The Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains, by checking the moisture-laden winds from the Pacific Ocean, reduce the region east of these ranges to a desert. In order to understand the distribution of the honey plants within the United States a knowledge of the physiographic regions into which it is divided is necessary.
Manifestly it is impossible to divide the United States into regions based on the honey plants alone. Such an attempt would result in a few large, ill-defined