The Coastal Plain, or Tidewater North Carolina, is a vast area of low land comprising 20,000 square miles. It is about 125 miles in width, and the eastern half is not more than 20 feet above sea level. Swamps and lakes abound, and the coast line is deeply and irregularly indented by broad tidewater rivers, bays, and sounds. Its western boundary is the “fall line,” which extends from the point where the Great Pedee River crosses the south boundary line, to Weldon on the Roanoke. The soil is generally sandy, but between the rivers it is a black peaty loam. The climate is mild; and the southeast corner, where the palmetto, magnolia, mock orange, and sweet bay flourish, is sub-tropical. A large area of the uplands, known as the pine barrens, is covered by a pine forest.
The chief honey plants are the gallberry, tupelos, or gum trees (Nyssa biflora and N. aquatica), huckleberry, blackberry, holly, tulip tree, and maple. Of less importance are rattan, persimmon, cotton, cowpeas, sumac, asters, goldenrod, wild cherry, willow, and blueberry. Gallberry (Ilex glabra) covers thousands of acres on the uplands near the swamps and along the rivers, blooming from May 10 to June 1, and yielding a honey which is excellent, but rather thin, and inclined to ferment unless well ripened. The tupelos extend up into Virginia and are abundant all along the North Carolina coast line. The white tupelo is more abundant in the southern part.
The Coastal Plain is the leading honey-producing region of the state, and the possibilities of honey production on a commercial scale are great. In 1919, the poorest year known for the production of honey in the Coastal Plain, the southeastern counties of Wayne, Onslow, Duplin, Sampson, Pender, and Bladen reported only a small amount of honey; but in 1919 these same counties produced much greater crops. A beekeeper near Wilmington writes that he obtains on an average 45 pounds of extracted and 35 of section honey per colony. A few miles distant there is much vacant territory.
In the Coastal Plain the best locations are in the swamp lands along the rivers and creeks that flow into the Atlantic Ocean, and near the many sounds and bays which extend far inland. The semi-arid lands of the western states require irrigation; but in North Carolina great areas need drainage. Both propositions require state and government aid. Adapted to this wet sour land are a number of plants which yield an immense amount of honey. In the southeastern swamps the gum trees are very abundant, while on the higher lands grow the gallberry, blackberry, and huckleberry. “But for these plants,” says E. R. Root, “the whole southeastern section of the United States would be without table honey, for on the sour soil of the Coastal Plain neither sweet clover nor white clover will thrive. The gallberry is a most valuable honey plant, covering much land that will probably never he reclaimed for farm purposes. It offers great opportunities to the prospective beekeeper, and in the near future much more gallberry honey will probably have sold than at present. The blackberry and huckleberry are also very common, and are an ever reliable source of honey for stimulating brood-rearing. The animal life of the swamps is likely, however, to deter the timid beekeeper from entering them, for they abound in mosquitoes, redbugs, venonous snakes, and other enemies of the human race. But the more adventurous apiarist can successfully protect himself from most of these dangers and annoyances; and happily, with few exceptions, the swamp land is said to be free from malaria.”
The middle section of the state, or the Piedmont Plateau, extends from the “fall line” to the Blue Ridge, which rises abruptly above the plateau to a height of two or three thousand feet. Many large rivers take their rise in the valleys, which are several hundred feet lower than the intervening upland. Agriculture is the chief industry. The surplus honey is obtained chiefly from tulip tree, sourwood, crimson clover,