Central Oregon



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24 Oct 2020 • Online Event
24 Nov 2020 7:00 PM • This is an online event (via Zoom)


We are a diverse bunch of individuals who share a fascination for the honey bee and its workings. Our members range from full-time beekeepers and pollinators with hundreds of hives to hobbyists involved in backyard beekeeping. 

Some members do not even keep bees, but are fascinated by the six legs and four wings of Apis mellifera.

We meet on the fourth Tuesday of most months at the Bend Environmental Center. 


The Mission of the Central Oregon Beekeeping Association (COBKA) is to promote effective, economic and successful regional beekeeping through education, collaboration, communication and research in the spirit of friendship.

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October in the Apiary in Central Oregon

We all start preparing for the winter in Central Oregon this month by turning off the sprinklers, cleaning out the dead plants after the first frost, changing the tires to winter tires.

Honey bees have evolved to prepare for winter as well.  We as the steward of our hives of domesticated bees, need to help prepare them for the winter.

There are many opinions of what to do to winterize your bees.  You need to evaluate and be able to justify to yourself what you’re doing.

Starting with the easiest part:  Most all beekeepers will agree that our bees should start the winter with enough food (honey) to survive through the winter.  I find that 80% of the frames or bars are full of honey should be full (hopefully side to side and top to bottom), and if not will feed syrup to add stores until it gets consistently below 50 degrees or so.  Mites should be under control (see the honey bee health coalition’s Varroa tools for specifics), they are queenright (duh), and there is something, a rock perhaps, on top to keep the top from blowing off.

Other activities vary depending on the beekeeper.  There are many opinions.

Many of us will provide some protection against the prevailing winds (tree, wall, hedge, hay bales etc.)  Also, many of us will install an entrance reducer, or mouse guard (keeps those nasty mice out) (for Langstroth, top bar and Long hives) as well as tilting the hive slightly forward so any condensation, rain or melted snow will drip out and not in (mostly Langstroth).

Insulation:  Two ways to look at it.  1.  It gets cold in central Oregon in the winter.  We should insulate to help keep the internal temperature in the hive a bit warmer.  Many beekeepers in Central Oregon wrap their hives with a variety of techniques.  Tar paper wrapped around the hive and secured with staples, tar paper wrap with straw inside as further insulation.  Bubble wrap.  Rigid foam around the hive.  As well as the sides of the hive, you need to think about the tops and bottoms.  On top, many folks will provide either similar insulation as the sides, or a moisture absorber (blanket, wood chips in an upper box), on bottoms, for a Langstroth, Top Bar and Long hives, most beekeepers will close a screened bottom board, with some adding extra insulation there as well.  2.  Honey Bees are raised in Quebec and by Commercial beekeepers in Central Oregon without extra insulation.  Maybe it’s more of a thermodynamic question.  Colder means eating more honey.  If there is enough food, no extra work is needed.

Ventilation:  There are very heated discussions on ventilation.  Where we all agree is that condensation, dripping on the bees during winter is BAD.  One school of thought is to keep the hive relatively tightly buttoned up with only the entrance open.  Filling all empty spaces with space filling items (blankets etc.) with the understanding that the bees have evolved to moderate the internal temperatures and humidities to what is best for them.  The top of the hive should be flat or curved up to cause any condensation to drip down the walls instead of on the bees.  This applies to Langstroth as well as Top Bar and horizontal (Long) hives.  A second school of thought is to provide a second upper entrance, on the same side as the lower entrance (so they don’t get a wind tunnel effect through the hive) with the assumption the bees will propolize the extra hole to adjust the through flow of air as they see fit (primarily used for Langstroth and Top bar).

After your hives are winterized.  Breathe a sigh of satisfaction.  Extract and prepare your stolen honey.  Look forward to Winter with a warm blanket or fire.

Allen Engle

Thoughts on our association.  You are a member of the Central Oregon Beekeepers Association.  Our stated mission is “The Mission of the Central Oregon Beekeeping Association (COBKA) is to promote effective, economic and successful regional beekeeping through education, collaboration, communication and research in the spirit of friendship.”

Just to make sure you are aware of the benefits you are entitled to as a member, here are several of them. If you’re not yet taking advantage of them, please feel free. If you don’t know how, contact me and I’ll walk you through it.  Our club provides monthly meetings, usually with an expert in a particular area of beekeeping, or area of interest to beekeepers (either a member who’s an expert in a certain area, or a guest brought in from a university or commercial setting).  Along with this, we provide a 30 minute “beginner’s corner” where there will be 1 or more experienced beekeepers both to answer general beekeeping questions, explain terms and concepts to be covered by the speaker during the regular meeting as well, sometimes, as discussing what beekeepers ought to be working on and thinking about during a particular time of year……..all in a nonjudgmental environment where it’s ok and accepted to ask the basic questions. COBKA Meeting Slides Archives Monthly, we provide a “what to do in (month) in the apiary discussion, specific to central Oregon. In the Apiary Archives Most years (COVID has put a monkey wrench into this) COBKA also conducts a beginner bee school which, in one day, provides newbies with enough information to get started and through the first season with their bees.  Also, we try annually to organize an intermediate or advanced seminar where topics of interest especially to more experienced beekeepers are discussed.  Finally, we try to have one speaker a year who will present to a mixed (beekeepers and general public) on a topic that may be of general interest (native pollinators, Africanized honey bees, mason bees etc.)

Also along the education vein, you have access to our online forums where you can ask questions of the membership in general (open forum), or of experienced beekeepers (mentor forum), as well as coordinating equipment, bee and queen pickup and delivery or a place to sell stuff.  We provide scholarships to people who are working on their Oregon Master Beekeeper qualifications

We try to publicize the more important goings on in the regional beekeeping world.  State and regional conferences, honey bee loss polls etc. Events

Finally, we do provide access to extraction equipment and a swarm list.

Almost the most important part, which we’ve been somewhat missing this year, is the opportunity to visit and rub shoulders with a whole variety of other folks whose primary similarity is the interest in honey bees and pollination.

If you have questions about any of these, or suggestions of changes, or new opportunities, please let me know…….or better yet, sign up to be part of the steering committee where all of these items and others are discussed and decided on.  It’s very low stress, meeting quarterly and a great group of people.

Allen Engle 541-four two zero-0423

COBKA Monthly Notes Archives

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