tains. Its surface is a vast upland plain with a gentle slope toward the east, broken only by the valleys of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers and their tributaries and widely distributed buttes and low hills. Cottonwoods, willows, wild plum, service berry, choke cherry, buffalo berries, and in some sections ash and Canadian poplar are common on the clay loams of the river valleys; but the vast sandy plains are treeless, and produce little except scattered clumps of bunch grass and patches of cactus and sagebrush.
In the eastern portion of the state commercial beekeeping is largely restricted to the irrigated land along the Yellowstone River and its southern tributaries; but promising locations may be found along the Musselshell River and the Milk River. The native honey flora is of little importance except for stimulating brood-rearing. Several species of willows furnish the first nectar and pollen, while thornbush, choke cherry, service berry and cultivated apple and cherry trees are helpful during the spring season. Dandelion is unusually abundant along the Yellowstone Valley, and often yields a small surplus which blends well with the later honey, although it crystallizes early. Then come the mustards (Brassica campestris and B. arvensis), common in grainfields. White clover and alsike clover are found only in very limited areas, and furnish little or no surplus. Alfalfa covers a larger area than any other plant; but sweet clover is reported to yield a larger surplus. Bees often show a marked preference for the bloom of sweet clover to that of alfalfa. While both the white and the yellow sweet clover are annually becoming more common in some parts of the state, in other localities they are decreasing, due to more intensive cultivation, especially west of Billings. At Miles City, on the Yellowstone River, and in Tongue River Valley, there is a profusion of herbaceous wild flowers, which, although of little value to bees, are an endless source of pleasure to the beekeeper. “Between my home and the river on the flats among the cottonwoods,” writes a beekeeper of Miles City, “there are countless little delicate flowers of every hue and design. It is glorious.”
In eastern Montana the only honey plants which are commercially important are alfalfa and sweet clover, which are restricted chiefly to the irrigated areas. Beekeeping, both present and prospective, is, therefore, largely dependent on irrigation.
In the northeast corner of the state there is a nearly square area containing 25,000 square miles, through the center of which flows the Missouri River. The principal crops are the cereals. There are few bees in this region, even in the valleys; and on the open plains they would speedily die of starvation. At Frazer, Valley County, there are two apiaries which together contain 20 colonies. From sweet clover and alfalfa 100 pounds of surplus per colony are obtained in a good year. Settlers are reported as beginning to manifest greater interest in bee culture. At Sidney, Richland County, on the Yellowstone River, there is an apiary of 100 colonies and another containing a much larger number. There are also some ten small yards in this vicinity. At Savage, in the same county, there are three apiaries which together number 600 colonies, besides a number of smaller yards. The bee territory is very limited, and is confined to the bottom-land and irrigated land along the river. Alfalfa is restricted to the irrigated land; but sweet clover grows also on the islands, and on the banks of the rivers and irrigating ditches, and will also grow on dry land, and in some places is now used for pasture. The bench lands back of the rivers are not so suitable for bee culture.
The counties along the north border and in the central portion of the state are Hill, Blaine, Phillips, Chouteau, Cascade, Fergus, and Musselshell. They have a combined area of 17,000,000 acres, and are in the “dry farm” section of the state. At Chinook, in the Milk River Valley, beekeeping at present receives little atten-