The center of the state is occupied by the Rocky Mountains, a series of lofty ranges running nearly north and south, in which there are many peaks rising to the height of 12,000 to 14,000 feet. West of the Eastern or Front Range are four extensive valleys or parks which have a combined area of 13,000 square miles. They are known as the North, Middle, South, and San Luis parks, and were formerly the basins of great lakes. The soils of the park lands are fertile, and covered with abundant vegetation. There is little irrigation in the mountains except in the San Luis Valley, and the area of alfalfa is small. Many counties report no bees, and others only a few hundred colonies. Adverse conditions occur in Fremont County, where orchardists spray their fruit trees before the petals fall, and American foul brood is common. Near Canon City and Florence there are a few bees, and most of the apiaries are small. In Custer County, at Westcliffe, the altitude is 8000 feet, and, while the natural meadows are covered with wild flowers, very few bees work on them. Many ranchmen have a few colonies which are much neglected. Dandelion and aster at times yield a surplus; but here, as on the plains, alfalfa and sweet clover are the chief sources of nectar.
In the southern portion of the Rocky Mountain region there are 500,000 acres taking water from the Rio Grande and its tributaries. Rising in the mountains of southern Colorado this river flows through the San Luis Valley into New Mexico. The surface of the valley, which has an area of 9400 square miles and an elevation of 7500 feet, is nearly flat, as it was formerly the bed of a great inland lake. The principal crops are alfalfa, cereals, potatoes, and Canada field peas. Beekeeping in this valley is in an undeveloped condition, but there are probably many localities in which it would be fairly successful. At Moses and at Hooper there are a few bees. During the past four years there has been a fair flow in July and August. The honey plants are alfalfa, sweet clover, and Rocky Mountain bee plant (Cleome serrulata). At Hooper, in 1919, one colony stored 200 pounds in August; and the entire yard averaged over 200 pounds, spring count, and increased 150 per cent.
The Western Slope, or Colorado Plateau, comprises the counties situated on the western boundary line of the state, but the level portion of Moffat County belongs to the Wyoming Basin. Distributed irregularly over this section are numerous isolated mountains and short mountain ranges, elevated treeless plains, and mesas, or grassy tablelands bounded by steep scarps or walls. Along the Gunnison, Uncompaghre, and other streams are deep canyons which extend for miles. The rainfall is so small that agriculture can not be carried on without irrigation. For the production of honey the Western Slope may be divided into three regions: the northwestern region, the Colorado River Basin, or the Grand Junction and Montrose region, and the southwestern region, or the San Juan River Basin.
In the northwestern corner of the state, in Moffat County, there are 17,000 acres under irrigation, chiefly along the Little Snake River. On both sides of the river are comparatively level arid lands. Yampa River flows in a part of its course through a deep canyon, south of which there is a ridged tableland. Only a few bees are reported in this county. The adjoining county of Routt is largely included in the Park Range National Forest. Rio Blanco County has 28,000 acres under irrigation on White River, and 15,000 acres of alfalfa under cultivation. At Meeker, on White River, there is an abundance of white clover, and in May and June many wild flowers. Nearly every one has a few colonies. A beekeeper writes: “I know of no other locality better than this with fewer bees. The possibilities are great.’’ But this is an isolated locality, rather limited, and the honey produced here must be hauled a considerable distance over the mountains to reach a railroad, as there is practically no local sale for it.
The entire valley of Grand River from Glonwood Springs to Grand Junction