Central Oregon



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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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June in your Central Oregon Apiary,

After those 2 or 3 hot days late May and early June, we seem to be back to the normal “unsettled” Spring weather.  Makes planning inspections more than a day or two ahead of time more interesting.  I find in the rural areas during the early/middle of June, we have a couple of weeks of dearth (after the bitterbrush, before the sage brush), with the only blooms the sulfur buckwheat.  As with all observations, there are enough microclimates in our area that others may have very correct different observations.  Because of this some hives will be a little less calm with little or no growth, while others may be calm with continuing booming growth.  It seems there are unseen pockets of other forage, perhaps weeds, still available.  In urban areas, this dearth doesn’t seem to exist.  In the urban areas, the forage dearth seems to be more from late April to mid May with June being a good flow.

The main thing at this time of year is to keep on top of, or better ahead of your hives.  BEFORE they start “getting that swarming feeling” (to paraphrase the Righteous Brothers), adjust.  If your hive is still, or has recently been booming, you can steal brood from a strong hive and give to a weak hive (assuming mites and diseases are under control), you can swap empty frames of comb for honey filled ones for use during emergency winter feeding.  If you’re in the dearth side of things, I’d recommend using drawn comb as these replacements as the bees really want “instant gratification” and can’t draw it quickly enough to solve the issue.  With the TBH I like to store the extra drawn comb on the inactive side of the follower board, and just move them to the active side of things to accomplish the same thing.

Another technique for keeping ahead of a booming hive is to cage the queen for a week or two, just to keep the numbers under control.  I personally don’t do this, as first I see it as counterproductive to the best growth of the colony, but additionally I’m of the opinion that it can cause an imbalance of brood and bee age which can encourage swarming (my opinion).

You can still split a colony, but it’ll probably produce two colonies which will flourish, but not be productive from a honey point of view.

The best technique is adding a super, or putting into play extra bars or frames in a TBH or long hive, before they are needed.

If your hives are in an urban area, please take swarm control seriously.  We are neighbors of all who are around us, and it can be unsettling, even to the point of angering when our hives swarm several times a year into a neighbor’s yard.  Additionally, I always dislike losing ½ my bees and a month of brood rearing during the best time for build up.

The other part of hive husbandry in June is to “fix the problem” before it’s too late for the colony to flourish.  If the colony is just eking by (one or two frames of young brood but very little older brood), check for and fix mite problems, or add some capped brood from another healthy colony to boost the population above the critical level.  If the pattern is really spotty, or there is a lot of drone brood, or Deformed wing virus symptoms, figure out if it’s a mite issue (count and treat) or a queen issue (not a mite issue) and replace the queen.  If they haven’t fixed the problem by now on their own, it probably won’t get fixed.

June always makes me feel like Summer is coming.

Allen Engle

At our June Meeting we're excited to have Naomi Price discussing Defensive Colonies! Hope to see you there!

She lands on flowers

Proboscis finds sweet nectar

Full she then flies home

Connie Axelrod, 2020 Haiku Contest honorary mention

When the Honey is Not So Sweet: Managing Bee Stings

By Nancy Pietroski

Stings are a common and not unexpected hazard of beekeeping.  If a particular honeybee stings, it will only happen once as they die after stinging, and can’t attack repeatedly like hornets and wasps. However, a person can receive multiple stings at the same time. With the sting a venomous toxin is released, which can cause an allergic reaction in the unfortunate victim. The degree of reaction to the sting depends whether someone is allergic to the venom.

Initial Management of Stings

If a sting occurs, do the following as soon as possible:

  • *        Remove the stinger by scraping it off with a fingernail or credit card
  • *        Wash the area with soap and water
  • *        Apply a cold compress or ice to decrease the amount of toxin absorbed into the skin ,and to decrease swelling
  • *        To neutralize the acidity and initial pain of the venom, these home remedies used immediately on the stung area offer rapid relief: honey! (cover with a bandage), make a paste with baking soda and water, apple cider vinegar, meat tenderizer, toothpaste

Management of Sting Reactions

A mild reaction to a sting can cause burning pain, redness, and swelling at the site. A more moderate reaction can cause substantially more redness and swelling at the site. These reactions may become more intense with each sting.  After the above has been done:

  • *        Take an antihistamine like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) to ease the itching (because bee venom contains histamine). These are older antihistamines and can cause drowsiness, but they work better than second generation ones like fexofenadine (Allegra), loratadine (Claritin), or cetirizine (Zyrtec).
  • *        Take an anti-inflammatory agent/pain reliever like ibuprofen (ex. Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (ex. Alleve). Although acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a pain reliever, it is not an anti-inflammatory, so will not help with swelling.

*        Use hydrocortisone cream, calamine lotion, or something with a topical anesthetic (like benzocaine) to ease redness, itching, swelling, or pain.

*        Herbal oils/creams like aloe vera, tea tree, witch hazel, calendula, or lavender may soothe the sting site.

*        Try not to scratch the sting area as it could make the reaction worse and may lead to infection at the site.

  • Anaphylaxis
  • A more serious reaction can occur after multiple stings at the same time, but is more likely to occur with a sting after a more pronounced reaction to a previous sting. This serious reaction can cause lip, eye, face, tongue or throat swelling/constriction, difficulty breathing or swallowing, itching, flushing, hives, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, or dizziness. These may indicate anaphylaxis, which is a true medical emergency. The only treatment for anaphylaxis is to immediately call 911 and administer epinephrine, such as EpiPen, if it is available. A person who has had a previous moderate reaction to a sting should be carrying epinephrine; this needs a prescription from a doctor. If epinephrine is not available, emergency personnel will administer it when they arrive on scene, along with other medical measures, but it may be too late.
  • EpiPen and other products such as AuviQ and Adrenaclick are autoinjectors, which are a syringe and needle that injects a single dose of epinephrine when pressed against the thigh, even through clothing. If you carry an EpiPen or one of the other products, know how to use it and make sure those closest to you know how to use it! Those who have been prescribed epinephrine autoinjectors always carry two pens, because if the first dose does not work in 5 minutes, another one should be administered. Even if the reaction subsides after administration of the pen, follow-up monitoring in a medical facility should be done.

If you are carrying an Epi-Pen for yourself and someone you are with has what you think is an anaphylactic reaction, but hasn’t been prescribed the Epi-Pen, should you administer it? For perspective, bee stings are responsible for 20% of all anaphylactic reactions, and people who have had a more intense reaction to a previous bee sting have a 25-65% chance of experiencing anaphylaxis with the next sting.  Although legally an epinephrine autoinjector should only be administered to the person for whom it was prescribed, it is not unreasonable in an emergency situation to use another person’s pen if an anaphylactic reaction is occurring. If you are going to be repeatedly in a situation where stings are occurring (like beekeeping), familiarize yourself with the use of an epinephrine autoinjector (instructions are on the label of the pen, too) in case you ever need to use it. Visit one of the product websites, which contain useful information on recognition of anaphylaxis and administration of epinephrine, such as https://www.epipen.com/en.

Allergy Shots

If you've had a serious reaction to a bee sting or multiple stings, you should see an allergist for testing and possible allergy shots to decrease your response the next time you may get stung. Consider wearing a medical alert bracelet that identifies your allergy to bee or other insect stings.

Thank you to Nancy & Allen for these May Notes!

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