OSU Citizen Science Project: Swarm Study

Attention beekeepers who would like to participate in a study on swarms!

Pollinator Pathways

Establishing pollinator-friendly habitats and food sources for bees, butterflies and birds www.pollinator-pathway.org

A magic moment
An emerging bee is born
She assumes her tasks

Connie Axelrod, 2021 COBKA Haiku Contest Winner

Upcoming events

21 Jun 2022 6:00 PM •
19 Jul 2022 6:00 PM •


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.

Attention COBKA members: Our esteemed honey extractor custodian will be handing over the baton this year. If you might be interested in hosting the equipment and helping to manage member borrowings, please contact us for more information: cobkasocial@gmail.com

May in your Central Oregon Apiary

Aaah, I’m seeing flowers…..at least between the snow showers and cold winds.

With all the prep work, purchases, feeding and worrying we’ve been doing the last couple of months, May is when we start to see results (good or not).  Now, as well as watching your colonies thrive, you’ll need to be a good deal more hands on to improve their chances of being successful through the season.

On and off in late March and April, we’ve had a few flowers providing some forage opportunities (with more or less depending on where your colonies are located.  Hopefully our colony has been building up its population pretty dramatically.  Now in May, we have to balance things.  If you open the hive and it’s chockablock full, you might want to consider some swarm mitigation.  I usually go with the 80% rule….If 80% of the frames in a box are full of food and brood, I add the next box (Langstroth hive) or move the follower board (TBH or Long Hive).  If for some reason, you’re not quite ready to add the next level, you can temporarily achieve the same result by checkerboarding empty DRAWN frames between the brood filled frames, and/or remove some of the honey frames and replace with empty DRAWN frames.  What you’re trying to do is to alleviate the actual or perceived crowding in the hive.  Additionally you can split the hive either as a walkaway split, or adding a queen….if you want to increase your hive count.  If you’re seeing queen cells (not cups) a good number of drones and lots of adults, and especially no eggs, they’re going to be swarming very soon.  I generally like to do an “artificial swarm” where you simulate a swarm by moving the queen, frames of capped brood and associated workers and some honey to another hive, leaving the swarms cells and capped brood in the initial hive.  Generally, you’ll get 2 colonies out of this assuming the new queen mates properly.  If the colony swarms despite your best intentions, recheck your colony after 2 to 3 weeks to ensure the queen is laying, and is laying worker eggs

If it’s not thriving, now’s the time to fix it.  This time of year, the main goal is to get the colony up to top form for the Summer.  It should be thriving and pretty much bursting with bees and activity.  If there’s very little honey/nectar/pollen, feed.  If there’s good food levels, and the queen is laying a good pattern, but there are still only 2 frames or bars of brood, think about “stealing” some brood (healthy only) from another colony to help them get going (this is called equalizing and can be necessary as it takes plenty of adults to raise the brood).  If the pattern is spotty, or you’re not seeing very many eggs (or lots of drones) consider requeening (it’s always amazing to me after requeening, how virile and productive a new queen is.)  And then there’s mites.

Many of us like to continue feeding 1:1 syrup as relatively cheap insurance until: 1.  There’s lots of natural forage; 2.  You want/need to put on a super; 3. They are in danger of becoming “honey bound”; 4.  They stop taking it; and/or 5.  You get tired of feeding them and the expense.

Because of winter non-brood treatments and the current stage in growth of colonies, I generally don’t do much mite counting until May.  This month is a good time to get your baseline counts.  You can still do some of the treatments prior to adding supers.  It can help you determine the causes for some of the underperformers.  Also, if you’ve installed new packages/nucs, after they get established it’s good to check them as well.  The tools for varroa management from the Honeybee health coalition provides great resources of counting and treatments.

This month reminds us some of the reasons we keep our bees.  Enjoy the changes through the month.

Allen Engle

COBKA Notes - Archives

COBKA Meeting Slide/Video Archives

“Voiceless Flowers”

among greenery

quiet blossom safari

olfactory binds

Naomi Price, 2020 Haiku Contest honorary mention


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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