West of the eastern rainbelt is the central section of the state, extending 165 miles from Topeka, or the west line of Shawnee County, to the west line of the tier of counties containing Russell and Barton counties. The elevation is 1000 to 2000 feet. The rainfall varies from 20 to 30 inches. It is in this section that the majority of beekeepers are located on account of the large amount of alfalfa and sweet clover. Alfalfa does not yield equally well in all the territory. It yields the most nectar in the valleys of the rivers and smaller streams, where immense crops of forage are harvested from three to four cuttings. On the higher ground sweet clover is being grown to some extent. According to a beekeeper who has a good alfalfa location on the bottom-land of a western river, alfalfa will yield the entire season if water can be reached at a depth not exceeding 10 feet. On high ground alfalfa yields only after showers. The best yields appear to come from localities where alfalfa is grown for seed. If there has been an abundant rainfall in March there will be sufficient water in the soil to provide for the crop during the rest of the season; and if it is very hot in July and August, without much rain, the bloom will yield nectar. But alfalfa is not as good a honey plant in central Kansas as it is in the irrigated sections of the western part of the state, and of Colorado, Idaho, California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. On the uplands in the central section it usually yields a little nectar from all cuttings, except perhaps the first, which comes between June 15 and July 15, while fields left for seed furnish a slow honey flow for a longer time.
In central Kansas the only honey plant of great importance besides alfalfa is sweet clover. On the uplands the land is so largely occupied by the immense acreage of com and wheat that the native nectar-yielding plants are not abundant. But sweet clover will grow on soil unsuitable for alfalfa, and in a few years greatly improves its fertility. The acreage under cultivation in Kansas is rapidly increasing; and, according to the Kansas State Board of Agriculture, 48,891 acres were grown in 92 counties in 1923.
In Washington, Republic, and Jewell counties, along the north border of the state there is a large acreage of alfalfa. Probably more than half of the farmers keep a few bees and produce honey for home use. At times alfalfa yields nectar well in these counties. Horsemint and catnip are helpful; but sweet clover is the coming plant in this part of Kansas, where it yields an abundance of nectar.
The central counties of the central belt report relatively few colonies of bees, although the area of alfalfa ranges from 20,000 to 40,000 acres. The yields from alfalfa and sweet clover run about 75 pounds per colony.
The southern portion of the central belt, especially in the valley of the Arkansas River, offers many excellent opportunities for beekeeping. Outside wintering is the rule in Kansas, as frequently there are warm days which permit the bees to obtain a flight. Brood-rearing begins in February, when the elm and maple furnish pollen. The surplus is gathered from alfalfa, of which there are 47,000 acres, sweet clover, and heartsease. The other honey plants serve only to stimulate brood-rearing. Sweet clover grows well on the uplands.
The western third of Kansas, in portions of which alfalfa is at its best, is a broad rolling plain with a semiarid climate, where in most seasons irrigation is required for maturing the crops. The soil is more sandy than in the eastern part of the state, and was covered formerly with bunch or buffalo grass. Large streams may disappear in the sand, as White Woman Creek, which is lost in the sand in Scott County. Practically all the water for irrigation purposes that can be utilized in western Kansas is furnished by three streams, the Cimarron River, the South Fork of the Republican River, and the Arkansas River. Of the 47,000 acres under irrigation in 1919, more than 97 per cent, were along the Arkansas River and its