From Brownstown, Jackson County, a beekeeper writes that his apiary of 45 colonies is the largest in the county. White clover yields a crop only twice in five years, in seasons when the growth has been stimulated the previous summer by much rain. In dry years it yields little nectar. The fall honey flow from goldenrod and aster is uncertain; but usually sufficient honey is stored for winter use. One year, however, 1000 pounds was secured from fall flowers by 23 colonies. In this locality the crop is not large and is unreliable. Good results may be obtained on the banks of the Ohio River, which forms the southern boundary of the state, when, after a flood, it subsides in time.
Thousands of acres of climbing milkweed or bluevine (Gonolobus laevis) have, during the past four years, made the counties of southwest Indiana very widely known as a honey-plant region. This vine grows luxuriantly on the bottom-lands of the Ohio River as far east as Spencer County; on the Wabash River as far north as Knox County, and on the White River as far north as Daviess County. The copious secretion of nectar is dependent on hot dry weather, whence this species is called “dry-weather vine.” It thrives in the lowland cornfields, matting the ground between the rows, and twining about every cornstalk, until it has be come an apothegm, “Shake one cornstalk and you shake an acre.” It blooms from mid-July until frost, and yields a fine-flavored, pale pink-colored honey which does not granulate. A surplus of 60 pounds in three weeks and of 80 pounds in two weeks per colony has been obtained. Over 100 pounds per colony may be secured during the entire season. At Vincennes, Knox County, smartweed is the best honey plant, but it fails in dry weather, and the beekeeper depends on climbing milkweed for his winter stores. Sweet clover is also of value in this county. It must not be forgotten that bluevine fails in wet weather, and that the seasons are uncertain.
Along the western border there is a narrow belt of land extending from Knox County to Warren County, where in wet seasons heartsease is the predominant honey plant. A surplus of 75 to 100 pounds of honey per colony is secured about every two years. The honey plants are white clover, alsike clover, sweet clover, heartsease (or smartweed), and asters. Farther northward in Fountain, Warren, and Benton counties the honey flora is poorer, the land is highly cultivated, and a much smaller amount of honey is obtained.
In the case of most states, as in Virginia and North Carolina, the principal physical regions are so clearly defined that no question can arise as to their number and extent; but in Indiana the physical features are so uniform that the honey-plant regions of the state must be based largely on the composition of the soils. Indiana may be divided into two natural sections — a northern glaciated region and a southern unglaciated region. The soils are of very different origin, and a more thorough study of their character and relation to the honey flora is desirable; but the data for such an investigation are not yet available. The honey flora is largely determined by the character of the farm crops. The annual acreage of the cereals is over 9,000,000 acres, none of which (with the exception of 6000 acres of buckwheat) are of value to the beekeeper for nectar. White clover is not likely to become more abundant; but red-clover seed is grown on 16,000 farms, and other clover seed on 1500 farms. The improvement of the honey flora will depend largely on the more extensive cultivation of alsike clover and sweet clover. There are 7000 acres of mint under cultivation for mint oil, an equal number of acres of small fruits, and five million fruit frees of bearing age