Central Oregon



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27 Apr 2021 7:00 PM • This is an online event (via Zoom)
25 May 2021 7:00 PM • This is an online event (via Zoom)
22 Jun 2021 7:00 PM • This is an online event (via Zoom)


Huddled close, happy

Warm for winter, together

Work all done, Bees sleep

S. K. Montgomery, 2020 COBKA Haiku Contest Winner      


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.


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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April in the Apiary

You’ve made it through Fall, Winter and early Spring.  If your hives made it successfully, it’s time to start planning your strategy for spring and summer.  If not, you might be replacing the deadout with a nuc or package, if you’re lucky late in April.

Let’s talk about the successes.  You’re colonies that survived should be waking up quickly now that we’re having multiple warm days.  Actually, they’ve most likely been waking up for the last 3 or 4 weeks, it’s just that if it’s too cold, they aren’t flying so we don’t see them.

You should be seeing a good amount of warm day flying, looking for water and forage.  Remember if you can get them accustomed to a nearby water source BEFORE they find your neighbor’s hot tub, you won’t have near the complaints.  This needs to be done ASAP as once they fixate on the hot tub, water feature or hummingbird feeder, that’s all they’ll use even if your preferred water is closer.

This time of year, I always enjoy trying to figure out where the current pollen is coming from.  Looking around at various flowers and matching up the colors and bee visits.  If you haven’t already, now is an excellent time to do an inspection and see generally what’s up.

One perennial question is whether to reverse the hive bodies in Langstroth hives.  I frequently find the brood cluster is only in the top box.  I find if left alone, they will fill the top box and not use the bottom box at all for quite awhile if ever.  Therefore, IF ALL BROOD IS IN THE TOP BOX, you can just switch the top and bottom boxes.  If the brood chamber is split between the two, though, you will risk the queen going with half of the brood, followed by most of the nurse bees, leaving the remaining half to die.  Given that caveat, I have great luck with swapping the boxes.

This is also a great time to check your mite levels.  If the bees don’t seem to be doing very well (flourishing) and especially if you’re seeing evidence of mites (frass, spotty pattern and perforated cappings) do a mite count.  If they’re over your personal limit (mine is 1%, though check with the HBHC tools for varroa management for more definitive definition) TREAT.  That way they are off to a strong start.  They should be bringing in food, however, 1:1 syrup and a pollen substitute is good insurance that they have all they need.  If they don’t need them, they will frequently haul the pollen patty out the front door as trash particles, indicating you don’t need to provide it any more.

If you want to increase by splitting, you’ll want a hive(s) that are just bursting with bees at the beginning to middle of May, so getting them as healthy and strong as possible this month is important.

During you inspection you should evaluate your queen.  Queens will become more available for purchase later this month.  If she is laying lots of drones, a spotty pattern, or perhaps an EFB or chalkbrood issue, consider requeening.  Many beekeepers will let them requeen themselves, in May or June, but also, many will purchase or raise a queen and force the issue.  (no single right answer).

If one of your colonies is very small (cluster fist size or less) consider either combining with another small cluster, supplementing with brood and bees from a strong colony, or consider it a dead out and replace.  Very small population hives rarely turn around as they don’t have the resources to maintain conditions, collect food and raise young but instead will slowly wane away to nothing mid summer.

If you want to rotate some old comb out of your hive and it’s not being used, now is a good time to either move it to the edge of your colony so it remains out of sight, or if it’s empty, replace with new foundation or comb.

For those deadouts, make sure they’re ready for the new bees you’ve got lined up for this year.  You’ll be getting busy later in the month.

I’m thinking this is lining up to be a great summer for beekeeping!

Allen Engle

At our April Meeting we plan to discuss Honey Bee Navigation. Hope to see you there!

Pulsing quick dances
alerting the colony
they know what she means

Connie Axelrod, 2020 Haiku Contest 2nd place winner

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 put a monkey wrench into this) COBKA also conducts a beginner bee school which, 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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