Central Oregon

                Beekeeping

                Association


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

Volunteer to bring Snacks

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.

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.

Upcoming events

24 Sep 2019 6:00 PM • Bend Environmental Center
12 Oct 2019 1:00 PM • Redmond - Private Apiary
18 Oct 2019 • SAVE THE DATE
19 Oct 2019 • SAVE THE DATE
22 Oct 2019 6:00 PM • Bend Environmental Center


I don't know about you, but for me I can hardly believe that it is September already. Whole seasons of work, worry, learning, excitement and wonder in the hives. Successes and failures have brought us to this pivotal time to begin the cycle all over again. Are you ready? Are your GIRLS ready? Let's find out.

September is the last ditch chance to get your hives in the best possible shape to make it to next spring. Sounds funny, doesn't it? I know what you're thinking..... summer is barely done and there's plenty of time left before snow flies. Maybe for US, but not for our girls. They've already worked as hard as they can to get to this point, so let's double check that their effort is going to pay off with winter survival. And that time starts.... NOW.

Lets set some priorities. Now is the time when all the worker 'fat' bees will be produced and must survive until spring, so let's start there. How are they going to do that? They must grow from the very beginning under the best possible conditions. Like having mite populations under control, so they are not debilitated before they even hatch. I know, you've been monitoring mite counts with sugar roll or alcohol wash every few weeks all summer, but now is the time of greatest danger. Queen egg laying begins to slow now, so worker populations will also decline. Varroa concentrations will increase both phoretically and in the capped cells. So MAKE SURE your fat bees aren't going to have to pay the price that mite infestations cause. If your concentrations test as high as 3%, go to this link to choose the best treatment for you, and get 'er done: 

https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/varroa/

Look things over carefully while you are pulling frames for mite testing. This is about your last chance of the year to disrupt the colony. They are not going to be happy about having you in there shuffling frames and threatening their hard earned winter stores. Taking inventory now may help you decide if or how much honey you will harvest. Make sure that full honey frames are positioned at the outer box walls on each side of the brood frames for added insulation. See if all the brood is in the lower box, and the box above is full of honey. We may get one more nectar flow this time of year, but shortfalls can be addressed by feeding syrup before it gets too cold to do that anymore. Robbing and predation by yellow jackets can wipe out honey stores and debilitate colonies in short order, so do any feeding inside the hive with top feeders or feeders that replace a frame in the upper box where they are easier to refill. Install entrance reducers to make the hive more defensible. Do your research to decide what concentration to make your syrup. If I have to put syrup on, I prefer to feed 1:1 concentration because it is most like natural nectar which bee physiology is equipped to handle. Yes, it is not as concentrated as 2:1, and will take more work to dehydrate to store. That's why you are doing it NOW. But, like a toothless old man trying to eat a steak..... if it is difficult to ingest, it won't do you much good. Check out this club link from a Naomi Price presentation to help you decide. Pollen that is still coming in will be stored for use so don't worry about feeding pollen patties now. Patties are used immediately for brood rearing not for storage, and brood is declining. The time for feeding pollen will come in early spring if necessary.

Speaking of honey harvesting, the warm days of September is your last opportunity to make the best of a messy job. Honey flows more easily when it is warm. You will have to decide if you will harvest now (and how much), or leave it all for your girls to overwinter, and maybe there will be some left for you to harvest next March.

During your inspection, keep an eye out for AFB or chalk brood. Both are indications of faltering colony health, which in an immediate sense leaves them open to robbing. AFB is contagious so you wouldn't want to have it spread through robbing or swapping frames from hive to hive. Smelly, stringy larvae when pulled from capped brood cells is the indicator to look for AFB, or dry, mummy-like uncapped brood is what chalk brood looks like.

And now let's discuss Her Majesty. If for whatever reasons she has not been preforming up to snuff, her colony may be under-staffed, and the pantry might be on the lean side. Heft those hives to see how much honey is in there. Ideally, 60+ pounds for a double deep colony, and take a peek to see how many frames of bees (hopefully 7-8 frames) are in there. You have a couple of choices to make here if your fears are confirmed. Re-queening at this late date is probably not your best choice. There's just not enough time left to get those numbers up. If you decide to just them ride out the winter, and see what you get in the spring, you will likely be disappointed with a dead colony or a queen who continues to under-preform. So go ahead and combine weaker or queenless colonies with healthy, queen right, stronger ones using the newspaper method (http://honeybeesuite.com/how-to-combine-colonies-with-newspaper/). Do this without delay to prevent a laying worker situation in queenless colonies, and before the worker numbers dwindle away. Now, you will have a good queen, double the bees, and double the food stores. WA-LA!

Get all your chores done so you will know you've done the best for your girls. Yes, you're still going to worry come January, but with proper preparation, you and your girls will have the best chance to greet the coming winter with confidence.


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


"In the Apiary" Archives


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