of the larger valleys. The east and southeast portions of the state are level sandy barrens well watered by ponds; the center is hilly; and the west, rugged and mountainous. Massachusetts may, therefore, be divided into three principal physical regions: The western highlands, including the counties of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden; a central and northeastern hilly region, or the counties of Worcester, Middlesex, and Essex; and a relatively level sandy southeastern region comprising the counties of Norfolk, Bristol, Plymouth, and Barnstable. The Connecticut Valley, which has the most fertile soils in the state, is, from the standpoint of bee culture, often ranked as a distinct region. It differs materially from the rest of the state. South of Pittsfield, Berkshire County, says Gates, seems to prove as good a bee section as parts of eastern New York.
Massachusetts is only fairly well adapted to intensive bee culture, for there are no large areas of arable land covered with white clover, as in the Champlain Valley of Vermont or in Aroostook County in Maine. Beekeeping is pursued almost exclusively as a side line. From the honey producer’s standpoint the Berkshire Valley, south of Pittsfield, in the west, Worcester County in the center, and the Clethra country in the southeast offer the most desirable locations. In 1919 the four western counties produced more than one-half, and Worcester County nearly one-sixth of the total surplus of honey reported from the state.
The Berkshire country is a rugged mountainous highland, traversed by long wooded ridges broken by deep valleys. It is a region of great natural beauty and productiveness; but, with its high altitude, the winters are severe and the spring's late and cold, which renders it more exacting for beekeeping than the southeastern part of the state. In the Berkshire Valley the soils have been derived from the glaciation of the underlying limestone, and are among the best in the state. The more important honey plants are willows, maples, raspberry, dandelion, fruit trees, locust, clover, sumac, basswood, buckwheat, milkweed, goldenrod, and aster. Raspberry is abundant, and there are hundreds of acres of wild thyme (Thymus Serpyllum) in Berkshire County. This species also occurs in Hampshire and Franklin counties. At Pittsfield and southward good crops of clover honey are secured, and also some pure raspberry honey, and there is a nearly continuous flow from a succession of other flowers.
The central and northeastern section is generally hilly, becoming more level toward the coast; and, owing to the fact that it contains a number of large cities, many beekeepers are found here, though it offers few inducements to the specialist. The chief honey plants are willows, fruit bloom, clover, raspberry, basswood, and goldenrod; but none of them yield very abundantly. Dandelion, sumac, Clethra, locust, and sweet clover deserve mention. The winters are severe; disease occurs locally, and the flow of nectar is irregular. Throughout Worcester County blueberry and huckleberry are abundant. Three acres of Scottish heather (Calluna vulgaris) have been planted on the estate of Bayard Thayer, near Lancaster, which secretes nectar freely in its new home.
A peculiar phase of beekeeping in Massachusetts is the demand for bees for pollinating cucumbers in greenhouses (see Cucumber). In Worcester, Middlesex, Essex, Suffolk, Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin counties, cucumber growers purchase more than 2000 colonies annually for this purpose, and many beekeepers devote their entire attention to raising bees for sale to them.
The southeast section is a sandy plain, generally level except for an elevated ridge south of Plymouth, diversified with numerous ponds and dry barrens, and partially covered with yellow pine. The ocean tempers the climate, which is milder here than elsewhere in the state. The sweet pepperbush or Clethra (C. alnifolia) region extends from Middleboro to Sandwich on the Cape and to New Bed-