from 42 inches in the southeastern counties to a little more than 15 inches on the Colorado line. In eastern Kansas it is sufficient for growing all crops; but the western portion of the state is semi-arid, and irrigation is necessary. Along the streams in the eastern part of the state there is a fringe of cottonwood, willow, oak, and a few other trees; but the western part is almost devoid of timber, and in the early history of the country the prairies were covered with buffalo grass. Com and wheat combined represent nine-tenths of the total acreage of crops.
From the point of view of the beekeeper, Kansas may be divided, according to J. H. Merrill, into four regions: A northeastern rainbelt; a southeastern rainbelt; a central alfalfa belt 165 miles wide; and a semiarid alfalfa belt in the west 170 miles in width. Good alfalfa locations for beekeeping are found in the central part of the state, along the Arkansas River, and all streams west of Topeka. In the Arkansas River Valley the water is so near the surface that the roots of alfalfa are able to obtain sufficient moisture without irrigation. Beekeeping is developing very rapidly in the western part of the state, owing to the introduction of alfalfa and sweet clover. Large areas under irrigation are yielding heavy crops of alfalfa.
Northeastern and southeastern Kansas, or the “rainbelt,” is about 75 miles in width, and includes 25 counties in three tiers. The leading crops are corn, wheat, forage, oats, and potatoes. In this region are located a large part of the bees in the state. Throughout the “rainbelt,” alfalfa, of which there are some 240,000 acres, yields little or no nectar. A beekeeper who has resided in eastern Kansas for 25 years reports that he has never known of a pound of alfalfa honey produced in this section. Around Topeka it is only occasionally that bees work on the bloom. In eastern Kansas the number of colonies of bees in a county is not determined by the alfalfa acreage. The surplus comes chiefly from white clover, sweet clover, smartweed, and Spanish needles. Other species of some value are maple, dandelion, fruit bloom, catalpa, box-elder, wild mustard, horsemint in localities, buckbush, honey locust, basswood, sumac, goldenrod, aster, and wild sunflowers. The large number of colonies in the “rainbelt” is clearly not due to an excellent honey flora, but must be attributed partly to its dense population, which much exceeds that of any other section of the state. Many small apiaries are maintained by feeding, and others solely for the purpose of securing honey for home use.
In the northeastern or glaciated section of the state, north of the Kansas River and west of the Missouri River, the surplus is secured chiefly from white clover, sweet clover, and heartsease. In the early spring red maple and dandelion, and in the fall goldenrod and aster, furnish a large amount of pollen and nectar. There is a dense area of apple trees and other fruits, as peaches, pears, and cherries. White clover is more valuable in this section than in any other part of the state, but it does not yield every year. When weather conditions are favorable it is the source of four or more supers of section honey.
There is little commercial beekeeping in the central counties of the “rainbelt,” and only a small amount of honey is produced. A beekeeper at Humboldt, Allen County, describes the general conditions in his locality as follows: “A crop is usually obtained three years in five, and is sold locally. The honey plants are white clover in wet seasons, fruit bloom, sweet clover, buckbush, broomweed, heartsease in some seasons, and Spanish needles. Asters are common along rivers and roads, but I have never seen a bee on goldenrod.”
In the southeastern part of the state, or the southern portion of the “rainbelt,” the soils are derived from the underlying shale, and are not suitable for the cultivation of the clovers. The best results are obtained in Wilson and Montgomery counties, where there are 30,000 acres of alfalfa under cultivation. It is reported to yield nectar in favorable seasons. There is also some white sweet clover. Cherokee County, in the southeast corner, is a much poorer location.