Beekeeping in the South



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"An impression gained is that beekeeping operations differ but little in the South from those in vogue elsewhere," writes Kennith Hawkins in Beekeeping in the South: A handbook on Seasons, methods, and Honey Flora of the Fifteen States. This is borne out by the 1910 United States census data quoted in his book which shows the fifteen southern states totaled 1,558,782 bee colonies producing 16,810,941 pounds of honey. The remaining 33 states had 1,886,224 colonies providing 38,003,945 pounds. Southern states exceeded the North with 33-1/3% more honey, and the former "has many more bees than the balance of the country." The needs of beekeepers in the following states are highlighted in this work: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. However, as Hawkins notes in his preface, the "volume is not intended as a manual for the beginner, but [it is] to supplement standard textbooks so as to show what differences exist in beekeeping methods in the North and the South." Briefly, these include alternative methods for tropical and mountainous regions, differences in beekeeping apparatus, variations in the overwintering of bees, effects of the shorter season of bee inactivity, and distinctions among regional honey plants. Discussing the importance of plant species, Hawkins points out that mesquite, black locust, and wild asters play key roles, while bitterweed produces honey that "tastes like liquid quinine." Hawkins' information is based upon "17 months of travel in the 15 Southern States for the U.S. Bee Culture Laboratory and the U.S. States Relations Service by the writer." As part of the compilation process, numerous agencies, such as the Bureau of Plant Industry, U.S. Forest Service, and county and home extension agencies were consulted.