Central Oregon




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.

Upcoming events

20 Jul 2019 10:00 AM • Redmond - Private Apiary
23 Jul 2019 6:00 PM • Bend Environmental Center
10 Aug 2019 10:00 AM • COAREC (Madras)
14 Sep 2019 • Prineville - Private Apiary
12 Oct 2019 1:00 PM • Redmond - Private Apiary

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

Volunteer to bring Snacks


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.

July in the Apiary

Let's talk about...


Nectar dearths happen when no flowers are blooming.  Symptoms can include a lack of nectar/pollen coming in, a lack of new white wax being deposited, reduction in brood rearing, robbing behavior and general defensiveness.   This can be deadly to bees.   Many keepers combat it with sugar syrup or protein patties. Other keepers let their bees ride it out, hoping they have enough food stores to last through the dearth. 

Feeding sugar syrup to help your bees survive the dearth saves their stores for winter, when sugar syrup cannot be fed.  Be sure and remove honey supers so your honey remains unadulterated. Remember the most hives need 80-100 lbs of honey to make it through the winter, depending on the highly variable harshness of the winter. 


July is one of the best months to treat for Varroa, you can knock down the population before it skyrockets in the fall. The chart below is not from Central Oregon, but the bell curves are representative of local populations. Honey bee population rises in the spring and the Varroa mite follows. Keep this population trend in mind, when thinking about treating for Varroa. An ideal current mite count is less than 1%, this is a lofty goal, and many people (depending on weather conditions and my poor memory) see closer to 4-5%. 

Several different mite treatments are available during July. These depend on weather, temperature, and whether or not there are honey supers on the hive. More information can be found on the Honey Bee Health coalition’s Varroa Management guide at https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/varroa/ .  Make sure you read all instructions and, if needed, seek the help of a mentor when choosing a treatment.


Honey supers on a hive are important for honey production. It is recommended to add a super or another hive body, when the current hive body is at 70% capacity. This includes bees, brood, and food. The bees will notice the empty space in their house and fill it up with honey. Yummy! 

Adding honey supers can be good, and bad. If the hive isn’t full enough, they might “chimney” up the middle of the hive. Only using the middle frames and not ever expanding to the sides. Or if the hive is too full, they might swarm before the super is put on. Always remember, adding honey supers at the right time is important, but the work pays off. 

Fixing Weak Hives

We all dream of perfect, strong hives, full of honey, brood, and a queen that lays. But, when it comes to reality there are several things that can go wrong. Robbing, low population, mites, or a weak queen can all lead to a weak hive.

When a strong, healthy hive is in close proximity to a weak hive, robbing can happen. Robbing is exactly what it sounds like, a strong hive, robbing honey from a weaker hive who do not have enough guard bees. This can be attributed to bees being snoopy and wanting free food. They are like college students looking for a home- cooked meal. Bees are attracted to the smell of ripening honey and because weak hives can’t defend themselves well, the strong hive takes what it wants. A beekeeper can avoid this by reducing the entrance to the hive and combining weak hives. 

Weak hives can be due to a low population. Low population hives can be fixed in many ways. First off, the hive must be disease free and have low mite counts.  

The keeper can take brood and honey frames from a strong hive and place it in a weak hive. This is an easy solution and works fairly well. Alternatively, the keeper can replace the queen to boost brood production. 

Two low population hives can be combined. The most popular method is the newspaper method. It is fairly easy, consult your beekeepers manual for instructions or contact your mentor for guidance, if you feel you need help. 

Sitting and watching

It is very important to just go out to your apiary to just sit and watch them come in and out of the hive. Observing your bees activities allows you to know normal versus abnormal behavior - providing the opportunity to troubleshoot before more serious issues arise. Many attuned keepers can even hear the difference between drones and workers. 

Additionally, many health issues can be found by looking at the entrance of the hive such as; Chalk Brood, Nosema, Dysentery, Septicemia, Pesticide Poisoning, and Robbing. These can be seen by looking at the dead bees in the front of the hive and markings on the hive body.

On a more laid back note, sitting in your apiary is a nice way to relax. So, pull up a chair, crack open an apple juice and listen to your bees sing. 

Kate Riding, Apprentice Beekeeper

Big Thanks to Kate Riding for writing this month's notes!

"In the Apiary" Archives

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