Central Oregon



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"Ladies Night" by Jolene & Harley

Upcoming events

14 Jul 2020 6:00 PM • Redmond
28 Jul 2020 6:00 PM • This is an online event (via Zoom)


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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 A little bit of my beekeeping experience, starting at the beginning:

As a young lad of Thirteen I was living on the corner of 9th and Portland street Bend Oregon. At that time there wasn't much above us on Awbrey Butte. No houses, no roads it was our back yard more or less and as kids we played all over it, building forts and camping out ,etc. on one of our excursions we found a bee tree on the edge of the cliff south of where the Riverhouse sits today. It was on Stidal chicken ranch property that was on the west side of the river.

 Being intrigued I decided I wanted them in an observation hive. so along with a friend we built a box that was 24 x 24 x 24 with one side glass and carried it along with a chain saw over the butte to the tree. not being much of a logger when I cut the tree down it fell off the side of the cliff to the ground some twenty-five below. that was probably a good thing as the bees were pretty well shook. so down the cliff we went with the box. with the chain saw I cut slabs off the tree till we hit honey comb.I had made two frames and had inadvertently left them at home. So we just put as much honey comb as we could in the box closed it up and hiked back over the Butte. once we got it home I put in my bedroom window and made a board to close off the rest above the box. My mother was not happy.

The next morning when I awoke the bees were gone. My bedroom window was on the second floor of the house and there was a large hedge that ran parallel to the street. there they were all bunched up about waste high. After inspecting the box and using the Kirby vacuum to clean out the sawdust, it was decided to put the comb in the frames using fishing line to get it to be straight up and down. ( I had no idea what I was doing. ) then went with the box and put my hand very slowly down the branch till I had the bees wrapped around my hand and arm. A quick flip and most of them were back in the box. amazing they stayed. yet they built their comb 90 degrees to the frames, so instead of looking at the flat of a frame I was looking down each corridor.

It all went well for a couple of years till I came home from school one day and my bedroom door was duct taped shut and my mother said the bees had to go. well the box got so heavy that the window sill started to give way and the glass broke. OH YES a bedroom full of bees. Alas out came the Kirby again and with duct tape I closed up the break in the glass and cleaned the room of bees.

 about that time it was obvious I needed to know more about bees then I did. At the Library I found the book call ABC and XYZ of beekeeping by AI Root and checked it out. within a week I had ordered my first real bee box from Glory Bee and when it arrived I gather a couple of friends to help me haul this 200 plus pound box out the back door down the stairs to the back yard where they promptly left

me to my project.The box was put together with screws and was bursting at the seams. In a pair of short pants, no shirt, and barefooted I began to take it apart and using my favorite tool,fishing line, I began again to put the comb in real frames and tie it down. Now there is no way I would attempt to ever do this again my mother came out and started screaming Your crazy. I ask her to not yell and please go back in the house. It all went quite well I never got stung and have had bees ever since. There something to be said for NO FEAR.

That was 54 years ago and I'm a lifer when it comes to Honeybees I'm still old school and use nothing but beeswax foundation in my brood chamber. Dennis mentioned Web Loy as someone that helped him start beekeeping. It was interesting as I started Web with his first bees. He and my father were friends for many years and Web passed not to long ago. we will miss him.

solar wax melter and frame cleaning station:

A bee tree moved from warm springs the colony fills the entire five feet of the tree:

Happy beekeeping 

Stephen Harris

June in the Apiary

Wow, what a strange, difficult and wonderful Spring.  I’m sure we’re all getting tired of the COVID19 restrictions and are looking forward to the phase 2 changes (although I really do enjoy being outside, alone with my bees).  I feel especially bad for all the folks who were furloughed, laid off or had businesses closed.  Hopefully these issues will start working themselves out in the very near future.  We sure had some glorious days during May.  I was hearing about LOTS of swarms (4 or 5 in a day for several folks) and quite a few folks creating splits.  No slash burn smoke, but heavy pine pollen late in May.

I’d like to reiterate what we heard about and discussed at the May Zoom club meeting, the concept of being mindful of our neighbors and the interactions between them and our bees, especially in urban areas.  Each year, I get about 5 or 6 calls per month during the active time of the year about what to do about neighbor bees which are “swarming my hot tub” or “flying across my picnic table”, or “swarming the sugar in my coffee stand” and of course 99.7% of all people are deathly allergic to bees.  We know our bees and what to expect from them.  The neighbors don’t necessarily know and didn’t necessarily sign up to host our bees.  Currently there are quite prescriptive rules in most of the central Oregon cities (you can look them up online) which talk about how many hives, where to keep them, how to encourage them to take preferred flight paths, how to avoid hot hives etc.  A better way to think about this is as a best practices point of view.  Instead of looking at what your allowed to do, look at how you can keep you bees in symbiosis with your neighbors.  Much of this is contained in the “best practices for beekeepers pamphlet” but items to think about are knowing your colonies well enough to keep them from swarming which can be frightening to neighbors.  Not getting them riled up just prior to an afternoon tea in the neighbor’s backyard.  Placing water in a convenient place to encourage your bees to drink there instead of your neighbor’s hot tub/hummingbird feeder/water feature.  Maybe not having 12 hives between the back shed and the neighbor’s garage.  Invite your neighbor to watch an inspection with the appropriate discussion of honey/pollen/bee bread/drones/workers/queens/swarms.  I find bribes can be quite helpful (it’s harder for folks to complain if their mouth is full of your honey).  Overall, my concern is that there will be enough complaints that the rules will be changed to make urban beekeeping very difficult.


It’s still swarm season.  If you want a swarm, sign up on our list for a capture.  Keep in mind your level of expertise, and don’t hesitate to organize some help.  Remember, a swarm isn’t just free bees, but may come with a mite load, no queen, an old queen or disease.  Caveat Emptor.

If your hives have been booming, or you’ve been uberfeeding, you still need to keep swarming in mind.  I like to add the next box (Langstroth) or move the follower board when 70 to 80% of the existing bars/frames are full of food and/or brood.  If they’re thinking about swarming (swarm cells) think about an artificial swarm split.  If you’re still wanting another hive or nuc, you can still do a standard split, although later in the month, I’d encourage you to add a queen instead of letting them create one.  Remember how short our summers are.

Keep up on the mites.  The spring buildup is pretty much over and the mites are still increasing.  This is when they can initially start causing problems.  Check the Honey Bee Health Coalition for methods and numbers, but counting and treating as appropriate is becoming more important.

During your inspections, this is a good time to spend some effort evaluating your queens.  Did they build up as you’d like?  Is the colony’s “attitude” what you want?  Does she seem to be bursting with energy or just getting by with respect to numbers of eggs.  Are there more and more drones, or a poor pattern?  Are there no eggs, uncapped or capped brood?  Do they propolize everything in sight or make lots of burr comb?  Are they keeping their mite count under control.  All of these issues should be evaluated but can in some cases be resolved by requeening, and now there are queens available from many suppliers, as well as you can make your own.  (See the discussion from last year)

The first part of June is frequently a dearth if in a rural area, so you shouldn’t expect much to happen in you hive.  Slower brood production.  “Pissy” bees with possible robbing.  No new wax, no new honey.  Things will frequently get better in the latter part of the month when the sagebrush starts blooming.  In town, the flowers will continue all month.

If you have questions, concerns, conundrums, a good place to visit is our mentor or general forum on www.cobeekeeping.org .  You will usually get 1 or 15 answers or comments within a day or so.  Others, who weren’t as brave as you, will also learn from the Q&A.

Allen Engle

Big Thanks to Stephen & Allen for this months notes!

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