Of herbaceous plants sweet clover, partridge-pea, heartsease, cotton, tie-vine, cow-itch, horsemint, boneset, and aster are reported as good honey plants in various localities. Bitterweed blooms from June until frost, but bees work on it only in dry seasons. Broomweed and crownbeard often yield in the fall an amber-colored honey, but in dry seasons they are of little value. No one plant is of paramount importance, and there are large areas without a sufficient honey flora to make beekeeping profitable.
Northeastern Texas is bounded on the south by the San Antonio River and on the west by the Black Prairie, the dividing line running from Paris, Lamar County, to Seguin in Guadalupe County. The counties are mostly small in size, ranging from 800 to 1000 square miles, many of them reporting less than a thousand colonies of bees. The soils are sandy loams and the honey plants are widely scattered, none of them yielding a large surplus. Beekeeping is pursued largely as a side-line and usually only crops of moderate size are obtained. Old-fashioned box hives are largely used and chunk honey produced.
While the large yields of southeastern Texas are seldom secured in the northeastern section, there is seldom an entire failure. The chief difficulty in this part of the state is that none of the honey plants produce a large surplus, and they are so widely scattered that, in order to secure a fair crop, it is often necessary to move the bees several times.
Southern Texas, or the Rio Grande Plain, comprises the area between the San Antonio River and the Gulf of Mexico on the east and the Rio Grande River on the west, and south of the north line of Kinney, Uvalde, and Medina counties. In climate and flora it belongs to the Gulf region of Mexico. The woodland, according to Bray, embraces 70 to 80 species of small trees and shrubs, not one of which appears in the Atlantic forests of east Texas. It is a semi-arid region with many days of intense sunshine, a loose soil destitute of vegetable mold, and a water level so deep as to be beyond the reach of all plants except perennials with long roots. Except in the river valleys there are no large trees; but vast areas are covered with a chaparral of low thorny bushes and small trees from 2 to 15 feet tall. It is noteworthy that 30 per cent, of the species, and a far greater percentage of individuals, belong to two sub-families of the pulse family, the Mimosas or Acacias (Mimosae), and the Cassias (Caesalpineae). Two small trees, huisache (Acacia farnesiana) and retama (Parkinsonia aculeata), are distributed throughout this section, and approximately determine its limits. Until comparatively recent times the Rio Grande Plain was a grassland. There are many who remember when hundreds of acres now in brushland were in grassland.
Southeast of San Antonio is a vast forest of mesquite trees, 10 to 15 feet tall. On the rich low flats this tree reaches its maximum growth of 20 feet or more. The open grass floor is close set with white brush (Aloysia ligustrina) and prickly pear. On gravelly slopes there grows a straggling shrub (Parkinsonia texana), and on ridges and bluffs that most valuable honey plant huajilla. Huisache is most common on clay soils near the coast. Northward there is a “black chaparral” of which 60 to 75 per cent consists of black brush (Acacia amentacea), which is chiefly valuable for pollen. The more important honey plants of the Rio Grande Plain are as follows: granjeno, agarita, two species of Texas ebony, eight species of acacia, huisache, mesquite, Leucena, retama, five species of mimosa, palo verde, redbud, coral bean, Eysenhardtia, guaiacum, colima, three species of sumac, two species of Texas buckeye, two species of Brazilwood, prickly pear, Texas persimmon, coma, Adelia, anaqua, and white brush. (For descriptions of these plants see Part III.)
The thorny chaparral of southern Texas secretes nectar much better in a dry season than in a wet one, as much rain blasts the bloom and causes it to fall from