January 2016 COBKA Letter From The President

Happy New Year!  I’m getting ready to start counting down to New Years Eve midnight.  I think I’ll blow one of those noisemaker thingies at each of my hives to celebrate with the bees.  I’d just like to recap COBKA 2015 as best I can remember.  I apologize ahead of time if I missed anything (as I get older.....).

Bee School 2015  This year, we had about 65 students at our Bee School, headed up by Patricia with Dennis, Allen, Mike & MaryLou, Roberta, Eric and Kim as instructors, registrars and facilitators.  In the months following, we had several hive opening and inspection demos with Stephen, Kim, Naomi and Allen.  We now have 65 new beekeepers and members.

Incorporation  This year, we formalized our incorporation as an Oregon NonProfit.  We are now legal!

Oregon Master Beekeeper Program  The Oregon master beekeeper program is continuing to strengthen.  Naomi Price is the Central Oregon regional director.  There has been quite a bit of interest in the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program, the primary “sticking point” in accepting applicants is the number of mentors available.  Naomi was able to round up additional mentors and OMB was able to accept 20 apprentices into the 2016 class.  COBKA offered three scholarships to local OMB apprentice applicants and an annual membership to all of the local apprentice applicants.

Bee Informed Partnership  I don’t know about your apiary, but 2015 was a bit better than average for mine.  We’ll be sending out the Bee Informed Partnership survey in April to judge how everyone’s year went and encourage you to spend 15 minutes to fill it out.  It provides good data on how beekeepers in our area did in 2015 as a group, as well as in comparison with the rest of the state.  In my unofficial, unscientific, limited poll, I heard there were quite a few overwinter losses, but with quite good honey production from the remainders.  Hopefully this year there will be fewer overwintering losses and similar hive production.  Maybe happier bees as well.

Speakers  Locally, speakers this year included Dennis (Winterizing Your Hives) Allen and Bindy (Wax and Candles), Steve (Splitting Your Hive), Ross (Rose Hive Method), Kim (Master Beekeeping Program) and Allen (Requeening).  Additionally we brought in several excellent out of area speakers last year: Lynn Royce, PhD, talked to us about “all things queen” at a club meeting as well as coming back in October to talk to the Central Oregon community about her Tree Hive Bees research project.  COBKA also matched $400 in member donations to her research.   Dewey Caron, PhD and Tom Chester, Professional beekeeper, did a day long presentation at the Sunriver Nature Center on Fall Hive Maintenance.  A big THANK YOU to all our speakers!

Meeting Location  We changed our meeting location from Partners in Care to the Environmental Center and our meeting day to the 4th Tuesday of the month.  Partners in Care generously provided several years of support to us by letting us use their facility for meetings, seminars and bee schools.  Changes in the patient privacy rules no longer allow any outside groups outside their normal business hours. We’ll be re-evaluating the Environmental Center this summer to ensure it’s meeting our needs.

Monthly “In the Apiary” what-to-do lists  Kim Rivera and Dennis Gallagher provided the “In the Apiary” notes each month with a bit of humor and support.

Steering Committee  The steering committee has worked hard coming up with topics of interest to a wide variety of backgrounds for meetings, as well as coordinating speakers, evaluating finances and policies.  The steering committee currently meets quarterly.

Extractors  We now have three extractors for club usage. A six frame radial, a three frame tangential motorized extractor and two frame hand crank.  Additionally, we have three hot knives, capping bins and uncapping platforms.

Website  Our new website has been up and running almost a year.  As with anything new, there was a learning curve for us all, but it has made many things (membership renewal, meeting announcements, email blasts, helpful hints, and equipment schedule) easier to manage. Thanks to Misty for developing the site as well as keeping it up to date and answering all my stupid questions. She has also been keeping our social media presence active (makes me feel hip to be able to even say that, not necessarily knowing exactly what it means).

Looking Forward to 2016

Bee school  The 2016 Bee School will be March 5th and 6th at COCC, which Patricia is once again heading up.  The format will be adjusted to take into account feedback by both students and instructors.  The goal will be to provide as much small group demo and Q&A time without as much repetition on the part of the instructors and schedule constraints on the part of the students.

Advanced Topics  Ramesh Sagili, PhD will be talking to us in March about topics still under discussion.  We are also coordinating with Dewey Caron, PhD on a talk about Africanized Honeybees during the summer.  More information on these events will be listed on the website and emailed to members as the details are finalized.

Area for Improvement: Mentoring  One of the areas we are still trying to improve on is mentoring.  We have several folks who have been answering questions, giving advice, occasional onsite counseling and demonstrations.  It would be great if we could connect more new folks with experienced (be it 30 years or 4 years) beekeepers so they can have a single point of advice.

Leadership  One of the ways that an organization remains vibrant is by bringing in new ideas through new and refreshed leadership.  I would like to encourage you to get involved with the club leadership.  It doesn’t need to take much time.  You don’t need to be an officer of the club, but can participate at the level you’d like.  You DON'T need to be a “crusty old beekeeper” (I’m thinking about adding that title to the name tags of several folks) but just be willing to share ideas, be somewhat organized and perhaps be interested in low stress leadership of a great organization.

I hope you and your bees are all ready for a great new year!  The Central Oregon Beekeeping Association looks forward to working with you as we all endeavor to practice successful beekeeping here in Central Oregon.


Allen Engle

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