Central Oregon



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


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.

Upcoming events

14 Jan 2020 6:00 PM • Redmond
28 Jan 2020 6:00 PM • Bend Environmental Center

2019 Photo Contest 1st Place Winning photo "Ladies Night"

by Jolene & Harley

Hello Central Oregon Beekeepers! It’s been a while since I’ve been over to visit your group, but I think of your Central Oregon bees and the unique region they forage in often. I’m glad to share some December bee yard thoughts with you. It can be a quiet month for beekeepers and their bees but there are always lessons to learn and improvements to be planned.

I know there are a lot of beginner beekeepers this year in Central Oregon. Remember to be mindful of the dangers you risk by disturbing and possibly exposing your bees to the cold when inspecting. New beekeepers are likely to fuss with their colonies too much. You might consider getting a stethoscope or an infrared camera. Learn from your mistakes by recording them and addressing the issues when weather allows. Hive activities on sunny days can tell you a lot.

If you have been able to lift your colony (just slightly, from the back) regularly to keep records of the weight you feel, then you should be able to continue this to know how fast your colony is using resources. This can be trickier for those of us with hives strapped in the treetops, but if possible is a tried and true method.

If your colonies are very light and you are worried about the colony starving - do not feed syrup. Liquids stay cold a long time and make it difficult for the bees to stay warm. There are dry sugar products that can be used as emergency winter food. If you have an inner cover under a solid top to your hive the dry feed can be put around the hole in the inner cover and the bees will hopefully find it. I think the Central Oregon developed SockerMat is an interesting idea, designed to make sugar available to the colony with minimal traveling and effort. I haven't used one but this sort of thinking and preparation can make the difference for starving, cold bees.

I’m thinking about how long it can be between visual inspections for some of you during these colder months. In the natural colonies I see in tree hollows there is commonly a space below the entrance that contains its own community of organisms. These organisms will dispose of organic matter (including dead bees) so they don’t accumulate in the same manner as most managed bee boxes. Remember to check the entrance of your hive often. Bees die during winter and some drop to the bottom board before they can be taken out. Bees in winter are not as likely to clean the bottom board because staying warm is their higher priority. These dead bees and debris may block the entrance, and the ability to get out in winter is necessary for cleansing flights. A colony confined is doomed. A small upper entrance can save a colony from this event. If the bees don’t like it they will close it up with propolis. Might be something to consider the next time you assemble a hive box.

Entrance reducers, insulation techniques, mouse guards, dry feeding systems are all great techniques we have to help the bees be more successful in our modern hive boxes. I am a beekeeper that tries to mimic the bee’s natural tree hollow cavity in my managed colonies as much as possible. A couple of ways I do this are by adding space for natural debris collection and by literally getting colonies higher off the ground. I like my bees 6’ or higher when possible but even being just a few inches off the ground can help bee colonies in winter. Airflow across frozen ground is cold. Predators and foragers are more likely to make their inspections at ground level. I encourage getting your colonies off the ground!

Remember too, while you are planning your 2020 beekeeping successes, to think about all the different organisms in your garden and how the overall health of your bees can be increased by improving your soil and encouraging biodiversity. Plant your bee gardens to offer blooms as early and as late as possible. Leave spaces for native critters to overwinter. I believe honey tastes sweeter when it comes from beekeepers who are good neighbors to native pollinators.  

Wishing you & your bees good health in 2020! 

Lynn Royce, PhD 

Tree Hive Bees

Thank you Lynn Royce for writing this month's notes! 

Hope to see everyone at Bees & Brews! We will be having an election for the officers of the Club during our meeting on January 28 (assuming mother nature agrees).  If you are interested in serving on the Steering Committee (COBKA governing body) please contact Allen Engle for more information. aengle@bendbroadband.com or 541-420-0423. If weather causes us to cancel we will note it asap on our events listing & social media. -Allen Engle 

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