Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/564

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says that at times the blossoms of the Indian corn yield both honey and pollen to the bees, but we think to no great extent. We have never observed the bees working on these blossoms.

The laurel (Kalmia) yields honey which is poisonous. Generally the bees do not work on these blossoms, but in some localities they do, and we frequently read of persons poisoned by honey which probably comes from this plant. It is thought that the poisoning of the Greek soldiers under Xenophon was by honey from this family of plants in this case from rhododendrons.

The plant lice (aphides) which infest many plants secrete a sweetish fluid of which bees, ants, and other insects are very fond. In seasons when real nectar is scarce or altogether lacking, bees will collect and store this material, which is generally known as honeydew or manna. There is, however, another variety of honeydew which seems to be secreted by the leaves of plants and is gathered by the bees. This material is hardly fit for human food, nor is it for bees either, and it is doubtless a principal cause of winter loss of colonies, for it produces in the bees a diarrhœa from which they perish if the winter is one of continuous cold, so that they can not take an occasional cleansing flight. Cider, juices of grapes, and all other sweet fluids are collected and stored by bees in seasons of scarcity. The general bad effects of all these are the same as of the honeydew—they produce intestinal disorders of which the bees die.

The profitable cultivation of plants, otherwise useless, for honey alone has never yet been demonstrated, and the low price of sugar will probably preclude any such efforts in the near future. Honey will remain a luxury, and as such will be produced in favorable locations—that is, on poor soil, where the honey plants grow naturally, and where the land can be utilized for nothing else. However, in the planting of shade trees it would be well to plant those which will produce honey as well as shade.

The effort is made by practical bee-keepers to find some plant, like the buckwheat, which may make a useful farm crop and at the same time produce honey. Many think alsike clover will do this. Prof. Cooke thus speaks of it: "Alsike or Swedish clover (Trifolium hybridum) seems to resemble both the red and the white clover. It is a stronger grower than the white, and has a whitish blossom tinged with pink. This forms excellent pasture and hay for cattle, sheep, etc., and may well be sown by the apiarist. It will often pay apiarists to furnish neighbor farmers with seed as an inducement to grow this par excellent honey plant. Like white clover, it blooms all through June into July. It should be sown early in spring with timothy, five or six pounds to the acre, in the same manner that clover is sown."