Southwestern Virginia is a rich fanning section with well-timbered mountains, cultivation the reapers and mowers confine these plants to waste places and the hedgerows. The minor honey plants are silver and red maple, willow, peach, pear, and apple trees, dandelion, black locust, honey locust, persimmon, catalpa, white clover, sweet clover, and aster. In Warren County there is a large number of bees, and the average crop is about 50 pounds per colony. Farther southward sourwood becomes important, but the other honey plants are essentially the same. The apiaries seldom exceed 20 colonies, and the average surplus is 40 to 50 pounds. No very favorable reports from this region have been received.
The extreme southwest is crossed by numerous mountain ridges, between which are smaller limestone valleys. At Olinger, in Lee County, in the extreme southwest, the honey is gathered from tulip tree, sourwood, basswood, black locust, white clover, and goldenrod. At times there is a large amount of honey-dew. The apiaries seldom exceed 50 colonies, while the average size is about seven colonies. Sweet clover and alfalfa are being introduced. It is one of the most promising sections in the state for beekeeping.
Of beekeeping in Virginia, W. J. Schoene, State Entomologist, writes: “Beekeeping is of minor importance in Virginia. With very few exceptions the bees are kept by farmers who give them no care or attention beyond taking away the honey and hiving the swarms. It is to be doubted if there are more than ten commercial beekeepers in the state who make an important part of their living from this industry. Very likely there are many places where bees could be kept with success, provided the right persons were interested.”
Total area, 24,170 square miles. The eastern one-third of the state is a mountainous area belonging to the Appalachian region; the western two-thirds, known as the Alleghany Plateau, is a rugged country in which the numerous streams have worn deep and narrow valleys. Much of the land is better adapted to grazing than to farming; but along the Ohio River the soils are fertile clay and sandy loams. Fairly good conditions for beekeeping prevail over the entire state, each section having its advantages and disadvantages.
The mountainous region consists of a series of parallel narrow limestone valleys containing the most fertile agricultural lands in the state. Here the old-time log hive is still common, largely because of the difficulties of transportation to the remote farms. At Martinsburg it is estimated that there are about 10 apiaries averaging 30 colonies each, and within a radius of five miles 50 small yards. An entire failure does not often occur, and in a good year 40 pounds of section honey are obtained. This is a fruit country with a large acreage of apple trees. The surplus comes largely from the clovers. Blueweed, or blue thistle, is common, and is reliable. Jefferson County lies in the Shenandoah Valley, where the land is nearly all in farms, and under cultivation. Apple bloom builds up the colonies in the spring; but in the fall the sources of nectar are few. On an average, 15 pounds of section honey, chiefly from white clover, are obtained annually. In Mineral County the yards are small, ranging from 2 to 12 hives. Very little modern equipment is used, and the crop is a failure about once in four years. The honey plants are dandelion, blue thistle, white clover, milkweed, and goldenrod, which yield a fair surplus.
Among the barren mountains of Tucker County beekeeping is not profitable except as a side line. The winters are severe, the temperature falling at times to