features, but these lands are not continuous over the entire area, as there are isolated patches of sandy soils of different origin and value. About one-third of this area is included in the famous Black Prairie Belt of Alabama, which enters Mississippi at Noxubee County and extends northward to the Tennessee line, including parts of Noxubee, Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Clay, Monroe, Chickasaw, Prentiss, and Alcorn counties. Throughout this section white sweet clover is abundant, but it is not common outside of it. Cotton is also grown extensively in all these counties. Other honey plants are black willow, fruit trees, black locust, redbud, blackberry, black gum, partridge-pea, Spanish needles, and goldenrod. In August and September a surplus is often obtained from bitterweed, which is usually left for spring feeding. This plant is very important where package bees are produced. The larger apiaries usually range from 50 to 100 colonies. One beekeeper has 500 colonies, and another does a large business in package bees. At West Point, in Clay County, sweet clover is disappearing in consequence of the land being pastured or seeded to alfalfa. Smaller crops are reported to be obtained to-day than in past years. A beekeeper writes that he has abandoned the attempt to produce honey, and devotes his attention to selling bees and queens, thus making a fair living.
But from Booneville, Prentiss County, the report is more favorable. No complete failure from sweet clover has occurred during the past ten years. An average surplus in a good year is perhaps 50 pounds; but with proper attention it could be increased probably to 100 pounds. There are in this locality some 100 apiaries, the largest containing 50 colonies. Of the Black Prairie, R. B. Willson, formerly the State Specialist in Beekeeping, writes: “The honey flow from Melilotus (the natives call all sweet clover by its generic, name) and bitterweed are late, but many very light flows during the early part of the season make this section well adapted to the queen and package business.” At Mayhew, Lowndes County, is located a beekeeper who, in 1925, had 2700 colonies of bees and 3000 nuclei which were used in producing package bees and queens.
Between the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers lies the Yazoo Delta, a low alluvial region 160 miles long, occupying 6000 square miles, the larger part of which a long line of levees protects from the overflow of the Mississippi at high water. “To me it is the most beautiful part of the state,” says Willson, “despite the fact that it is generally flat. Plantations of from one thousand to ten thousand acres are common, and, because of the extreme fertility of the soil, the people are wealthy and cultured, and, as a consequence, living conditions are excellent. The population is approximately 90 per cent, black; but this is merely an indication that the white man is the lord of the manor still, as he was in the days before the Civil War in most parts of the South.”
The honey flora consists of white tupelo, black gum, holly (Ilex opaca), blackberry, black locust, and white clover. Brunnichia (Brunnichia cirrhosa), a climbing vine which produces in June great sheets of bloom, is believed to yield a surplus. A large amount of honey is also stored from holly. Nowhere is there to be found an acreage of cotton more dense than in Yazoo County. “Definite information as to the value of cotton as a honey plant,” says Willson, “is difficult to obtain; but in recent years the severe losses from poisoning by calcium-arsenate dust, used to control the boll weevil, would indicate that bees work cotton heavily.”
Tupelo, though generally present, does not appear to be one of the surplus-making plants, because few beekeepers in the Delta secure a surplus before June, and the species of Nyssa bloom earlier. Willson states that there were on his mailing-list the names of approximately 100 beekeepers in the Delta. Of these, ten were commercial honey-producers with apiaries averaging 120 colonies. The remaining 90 might average eight colonies to the beekeeper. The Delta is bordered on the east by a high bluff or escarpment, made of a solid silty soil known as loess.