Central Oregon

                Beekeeping

                Association


OUR MISSION

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.


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

Volunteer to bring snacks for one of our monthly meetings


Upcoming events

28 May 2019 6:00 PM • Bend Environmental Center
15 Jun 2019 10:00 AM • OSU Central Oregon Ag Research Center
25 Jun 2019 6:00 PM • Bend Environmental Center
20 Jul 2019 10:00 AM • Redmond - Private Apiary
10 Aug 2019 10:00 AM • COAREC (Madras)


MAY IN THE APIARY

I don't know about you, but for me, this last winter was something else. I don't think we ever even got down to zero degrees, but the SNOW was UNBELIEVABLE. The snow did not leave until April and then the RAIN and WIND started. I was freaking out over finding a weather window to open hives even for long enough to check on food stores. The girls were flying, burning up energy in the few odd hours they had good conditions. Fret, fret, fret. Hopefully April will allow first inspections that will get us through until May when all heck will be breaking loose. It will be like throwing a switch so we better be ready.

May begins the first serious natural forage in quantity to be useful for our bees. By now your queens will have been making a real effort to rev up the population of workers in the colony, so there are plenty of foragers to restock supplies that have been drawn down by spring activities. So the number one thing to make sure of is queen performance. Look for good brood patterns and quantities of eggs and larvae. If you find less brood than you would like, or a lot of drone brood it may be time to requeen. If you see nothing BUT drone brood, you have a worn out or missing queen and a laying worker who is just making a mess. Do you see supercedure queen cells anywhere in there? Maybe your girls have already figured out they need a new leader and are making themselves a new one.  Otherwise, that is your cue to pay close attention and possibly even provide a new queen to hurry the process along. You are already burning days off the production calendar.

Make sure  there is enough brood space for your queen to do her job. It's a balancing act between who gets to use up all the existing space first.... all those newly produced foragers bringing in food, or the brood. If workers pack open cells with food, the balance of hive health shifts, and the queen will run out of room. This is called 'honey bound'. You can make more space by adding an additional deep box, but only if 8 of 10 frames are already full of food or brood. Or switch your empty lower box to the top. Headroom or lack thereof seems to make a difference. If you don't pay attention and things get too crowded you are setting yourself up for the next thing that can happen. 

Swarming. Already??? Yes. Keep an eye out during inspections this month for evidence of queen swarm cells. Located usually on the bottom of frames, but sometimes in the middle of the frames. If you see larvae in queen cells, something is going on in there. Your old queen may be getting ready to leave with half the colony. Which may even happen before a new queen can be sealed in her cell or hatch. This is your EARLY WARNING SYSTEM. Give them enough room and hopefully everyone will be happy and stay home where they belong. If populations explode, you may have to switch your empty lower box to the top, add still another box, or remove several frames of brood, eggs, and honey to make a 'split'. Carefully put frames with queen cells in here, making sure to leave the old queen behind. It is a way of increasing your hive numbers while avoiding the colony health setback of swarming. Swarming leaves behind a smaller weaker colony that has plenty of room, but fewer numbers to put away enough extra honey for you to be able to harvest any. And a virgin queen who will take time to get up to speed.

With all the exploding population growth, don't forget to keep an eye on mite counts. The infestation curve for mites follows right with colony growth. Don't let the mites get a good foothold now, and your bees will preform the better for being healthy. Test every few weeks and keep a log on counts and treatments. Mites were not around in Granddad's day, but now they are here to stay. They are the number one cause of decline in colony health, so don't stand idly by and let them rule the roost. Take a look at this link for help in treating mites. Honey Bee Health Coalition

For those of you that have FINALLY received packages or nucs recently, (I bet you thought they would NEVER get here), you will probably have to keep feeding them syrup for awhile. New research shows 1:1 syrup is the closest to natural nectar and easiest for the bees to utilize effectively. Don't skimp here, you are racing the clock too. They don't have enough numbers of foragers yet to be able to sustain themselves AND put the energy into growing their food stores, comb production, and brood production. Get them going good now, and they will be strong and healthy by fall. Keep entrance reducers on until your new colony is strong enough to defend itself. Don't forget to keep an eye on mites counts either. There are options to treat mites while the colony is broodless if your counts are already too high. Check out the link above.

And finally.... it is time to think about your yard and garden. Last frost date is June 1 for us, but with this crazy weather who knows for sure? Think about bee friendly choices for your girls when choosing types of plants, where to put them, where to get them and how they will serve the needs of domestic and native pollinators. Don't spray flowers that have blooms on, especially dandelions. Here's some great info on pesticides from HoneyBeeSuite.com

Don't worry. You've done all you can. Now enjoy all the summer activities of camping, gardening, vacations, cook outs, star gazing and........ BEE WATCHING.


Big Thanks to Sara Miller for writing this month's notes!


"In the Apiary" Archives


ABOUT US

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.


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