Valley alone support nearly 30,000 colonies, most of which are in the hands of commercial beekeepers. Alfalfa is the leading cover crop for the orchard district, as well as the leading hay crop. If it were not for the effect of the poisonous spray on the bees, this valley would support possibly a third more colonies.” In the Yakima Valley the bulk of the surplus comes from the second crop in July. Very little surplus is secured from either the first or third crop.
Many farmers in Yakima County have from 10 to 200 colonies, while specialists operate from 800 to 1200 colonies, with yields averaging around 100 pounds per colony. At Sunnyside the crop is gathered from sweet clover and alfalfa; but white clover, alsike clover, vetch, willow, locust, dandelion, and fruit bloom are minor honey plants of value for keeping up the strength of the colonies. The honey flow lasts from July 1 to about August 20. At Harwood there are nearly a dozen commercial apiaries which range from 50 to 100 colonies. The crop, which is gathered from alfalfa and sweet clover, is never a failure. Obstacles to beekeeping in Yakima County are cold winds in spring, a long interval between the close of fruit bloom and the beginning of alfalfa bloom, and the loss of bees from the spraying of fruit trees.
Total area, 95.607 square miles. Like Washington, Oregon is divided by the Cascade Range into a western rain belt and an eastern arid belt. Western Oregon has a mild climate, heavy and incessant rains, especially near the coast, and is largely covered with a dense coniferous forest. Eastern Oregon is a broken tableland with an altitude of about 5000 feet, arid or semi-arid, with a rainfall ranging from 10 to 20 inches. Much of the southern portion of this section is a treeless desert producing little vegetation except sagebrush. In western Oregon beekeeping is restricted to a narrow coastal strip west of the Cascade Range and to the Willamette and the Lower Columbia valleys. In the semi-arid belt honey production is confined to those areas where large fields of alfalfa are grown under irrigation. The two regions differ so widely in climate, soils, vegetation, agriculture, population, and industries that they must be described practically as though they were different states.
Western Oregon comprises about one-third of the state. Ten miles inland from the sea rise the lower mountains of the Coast Range. The Umpqua and Rogue rivers break through this ridge in deep rugged canyons, forming narrow fertile valleys. East of the Coast Mountains lies the Willamette Valley, which is about 200 miles long by 30 miles wide, and has an area of over 6000 square miles. South of the valley, in Douglas, Josephine, and Jackson counties, the coast and Cascade Ranges converge to form a mountainous region which has a less humid climate than is found elsewhere in western Oregon.
The country lying between the Coast Range and the Pacific Ocean is very narrow and rugged. There are only a few large apiaries, and the average production per colony is small. The mountains are densely forested with giant firs, cedars, spruces, coast hemlocks, and pines; and at the lower elevations vine-maple and broad-leaved maple are common. Vine-maple and fireweed are the two most important sources of nectar. The valleys have an equable temperature without extremes, and bees often fly every week during the winter. They build up quickly in the spring and begin swarming in April and May.
In the extreme northwest corner, Clatsop County, bordered on the west by the ocean and on the north by the Columbia River, is an open dairy country where white clover grows well. This is the best fireweed county in the state. Farther east, and south of the Columbia River, there is a strip of sand dunes a mile in width. Sea fogs are common, and greatly reduce the length of the average working day