blooms freely but yields very little nectar. “White clover,” writes F. B. Paddock, “is certainly developing into a very uncertain plant for nectar secretion.” At Buck Grove, Crawford County, in the west, during 12 years it has been killed out only once, and another season there was an extreme drought when it yielded for only 15 days. At Colo, in Story County, in the center of the state, during 23 years there have been four years (1903, 1911, 1917, and 1918) when white clover was nearly a total failure. During the other years the crop has been from fair to good. It is, therefore, desirable to select a location where, in addition to white clover, there is abundance of sweet clover and autumn-blooming honey plants, or not to depend entirely on beekeeping as a vocation.
The acreage of sweet clover has steadily increased westward until it is now found to some extent in every county in the state. There are two areas in which this valuable forage plant is abundant. One is in the extreme east, especially in Jackson County: the other is in the western part of the state along the Missouri River from Sioux City for more than 60 miles southward.
Along the streams there are three species of willow — the almond-leaved willow (Salix amygdaloides), the black willow (S. nigra), and the heart-shaped willow (S. cordata). There are two species of maples — the silver or soft maple, and the later-blooming black or hard maple; but the latter is not common westward. The dandelion is spreading rapidly, and is beginning to yield a surplus. It occurs in every county in the state. Heartsease (Polygonum Persicaria) and Pennsylvania smartweed (P. pennsylvanicum.) are common weeds and often yield well in the fall. Other autumn honey plants are goldenrod and Spanish needles. Wild mustard (Brassica arvensis) is very abundant, especially in the northwest section of the state. Twice during the past thirty years the low pasture lands of Linn County have been a purple sea of vervain bloom (Verbena stricta and V. hastata), and two supers of honey have been filled from this source. Less important plants are milkweed, motherwort, buckbush, boneset, yellow sweet clover, mint, catnip, sunflower, along the Missouri River, artichoke in the northern part of the state, partridge-pea, rosinweed, Canada thistle, and aster. Of the early-blooming plants, false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa) is important in a few localities along the streams. Black locust is often planted for ornament. Buckwheat is reported to yield very little nectar. All cultivated fruits are common in the southern half of the state, where the climate is milder, but cherries and bush fruits thrive in nearly all sections. In recent years many young orchards have been planted in western Iowa, which are beginning to bear fruit.
Probably no other state is more uniformly adapted throughout its entire extent to the production of honey in moderate amount than Iowa. While good results may be obtained in every section, the smallest number of colonies is found in the northern and northwestern counties of Worth, Winnebago, Kossuth, Emmet, Dickinson, Osceola, Lyon, Sioux, and O’Brien. There are also only a few bees in the southwestern counties of Fremont, Mills, and Montgomery. The northern part of the state is colder and more hilly than the south, and the west is dryer than the east.
The most favorable location for beekeeping is the eastern section of the state along the Mississippi River and the streams which flow into it as far westward as they are timbered. Excellent opportunities may be found in the valleys of the Wapsipinicon, Red Cedar, Iowa, and Des Moines rivers. While farmers maintain only about a dozen colonies each, apiaries of 200 and 300 colonies are not unusual. Sweet clover is extensively cultivated and yields a surplus every year.
Many beekeepers are also located in the southeast corner, which has a milder climate and a greater rainfall than any other part of the state. After the flow from white clover is over there is a fall flow from heartsease, Spanish needles, and buckbush.