Honey bees in the Arkansas Delta are surrounded by open agricultural fields in a variety of crops. One of the most beautiful sights is a flooded rice field. The lush plants grow in several inches of water held in place by levees which trace the contour of the land. Some of these crops, notably cotton and soybeans, produce an abundance of nectar for the honey bees to use to make honey. Other crops produce no nectar and are virtually worthless to the honey bees. The crops that produce nectar are flowering plants; the crops that don’t produce nectar are grasses. Rice is a grass, as are corn, wheat, and grain sorghum, which is often called milo. The rice fields do, however, provide a convenient source of water for the honey bee colonies. The bees find favorable watering places along the rice field levees. The bees like to collect water in sunlit spaces in the open. The Delta is wide-open flat land. A line of trees marks a drainage canal. In the summertime, water may be scarce; and a close-by rice field may quite welcome. Bees collect a considerable amount of water to cool the hive.
Arkansas produces about 45 percent of the United States’ rice crop with about 1.3 million acres planted in eastern Arkansas. Other states producing rice are Texas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri. Rice is shipped from Arkansas around the world.