Central Oregon



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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.

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

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September in the

Central Oregon Apiary 

You’ve done all the items you needed to (control mites, split colonies, mitigate swarming, early feeding, planting forage plants, appropriate supering) to have a successful summer and harvest (well done!).  Now is the time to continue preparing for a successful winter.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to harvest your honey.  The primary reason for this is that there are only a few weeks of good forage left.    As the colony starts to ramp down (queen slows her laying and the population starts to decrease) the colony starts to backfill the empty brood cells with honey.  This backfilling is important to provide the maximum amount of honey and frames that are completely filled to the colony during the winter.  Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the colony has started raising the Winter Bees during August.  They need to be concentrating on raising these bees which will live through the winter and help start the colony increasing again in the Spring.  The production of Winter bees involves not needing to feed lots of larva, with good quantities of pollen still coming in, helping the workers to develop fat bodies and vitelligenan, allowing them to live through the winter.  Also, from a more human centered point of view, if you harvest early in September, the comb can be extracted while it’s still warm, and won’t act like “molasses in January.”

The other three items which will help you have a more successful Winter are mites, colony size and stores.

Make sure your mites are under control.  As was pointed out in the last paragraph, the fat bodies are part of what makes Winter bees, and, interestingly (or terribly) enough, these are the same parts of the bee that the mites are after.  Early in the month count and treat, unless you’ve treated and counted in the later part of August.  My goal is under 1% this time of year, but for a more educated point of view, see the honey bee health coalition varroa control tools.

Secondly, if you have weak colonies (1 or 2 frames of brood per hive body) they probably won’t be coming up to full strength before Fall.  They also probably won’t have enough population to make it through the Winter.  If you have a second weak hive, consider combining them.  If one won’t make it through the Winter, with the two combined, they have a better chance of having the population to conduct the Winter activities of the hive.  Before combining, of course, make sure you know why they aren’t doing as well.  If there are disease issues, you could be infecting the second hive with the same disease.

Finally, once the supers are off, I like to start feeding those colonies that are light on stores.  They still have one or two months to put the honey away before it’s too cold, and the amount of natural forage continues to decrease.  The goal, once again, is to have honey wall to wall, ceiling to floor (except for a small brood chamber).

Next month we’ll talk about winterizing.

Allen Engle

A "Warreor"

In beekeeping a lot of things happen quite by accident.  For me an accident, not the car wreck kind, at the very beginning set the future course of my beekeeping career.  Being a master gardener I originally toyed with the idea of being a beekeeper purely to provide pollination services for my vegies.  I toyed and procrastinated about it, occasionally mentioning the thought to my wife Ann with no serious momentum towards making it a reality.  Then one Christmas morning I opened a present from my lovely wife, Dewey Caron’s book, Bee Biology and Beekeeping.  Surprised and please I was flabbergasted to also learn she had also secretly enrolled me in COBKA’s upcoming bee school.  I think I remember her comment being something like, “I am tired of hearing you talk about being a beekeeper, now you are going to be one.”

I furiously devoured Dewey’s book, exclaiming endlessly to Ann on the wonders I learned of this miraculous creature, Apis mellifera.  But the book was also daunting.  Such a steep learning curve.  A not cheap hobby. What if I hate it? Beyond education how should I get started?

Then I landed on what I thought was a very practical and low risk approach.  I live on twelve acres outside of Sisters.  Why not get a real beekeeper to place a hive or two on my property so I can shadow and learn from them, maybe get a jar or two of honey in the deal too.  After that I could decide if beekeeping was really right for me. So I placed an ad on Craigslist’s list and almost immediately got a response. Sweet! Pun intended. 

But now here’s the accident that changed everything.  The beekeeper, new to Central Oregon, said he would be happy to place hives at my home.  But then he added he did not use Langstroth hives.  Instead he managed something called a Warré hive. A what? He gave me a short course on the telephone on the French priest, Emil Warré, and what he called “The People’s Hive.”  I was intrigued. I had always assumed I would be a Lang guy but after doing a ton of research I found Warré’s hive and management philosophy fit well with my budding approach to beekeeping.  A so I became what is known as a “Warreor”.  So named because we are a minority that often have to do battle with those who believe we take the road a lot less traveled than we should.  However, there is no one right way to keep bees.  In all hive types and management approaches there are both pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages to each.  There are plenty of cons to a Warre’ hive and I would not recommend it to beginning beekeepers even though that is the way this journey began for me. By the way, I didn’t even bother having the guy put out hives on my property. I just went whole hog in. Accidents do happen.  Sometimes they turn out well.

Clyde Dlidine

Big thanks to Clyde & Allen for writing these notes!

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