Are you interested in learning about bees and beekeeping?

If you have little or no experience, the 'Getting Started with Bees' Certificate Program is a great place to start. It is a stand-alone program that satisfies the curiosity of those who want to know more about bee biology and backyard beekeeping through online learning and discussion forums. No waiting list - join at any time!

Take your beekeeping to the next level!

Are you interested in learning how to become a better beekeeper? Have you experienced problems in the past that you'd like to remedy? Do you want to help others learn about bees? The Oregon Master Beekeeper program is for you!

Participating beekeepers gain experience at three successive levels: ApprenticeJourney, and Master. Each level provides opportunities and support for additional learning, practice in the field, and community service.

All of our beekeeping programs represent a cooperative effort between the Oregon State University Honey Bee Lab and the Oregon State Beekeepers Association to contribute to both the health of honey bee colonies and the integrity of the practice of beekeeping.

Pollinator Pathways

Establishing pollinator-friendly habitats and food sources for bees, butterflies and birds

Oregon State University

Honey Bee Lab

Opportunity to understand honey bee swarm biology via participatory research / citizen science

Honey bee swarms are fascinating. Have you ever wondered what percentage of worker bees leave the parental hive during a swarm? You have probably read in bee books or a couple of journal articles that about 50% of the worker bees will swarm along with the old queen to establish a new nest. One study published in 2012 (Rangel and Seeley, Insectes Sociaux 59, 453-462) suggests that 75% of worker bees leave in a swarm. The percentage of worker bees leaving in a swarm could vary depending on the time of the year (April, May, June or July) and a few other factors. We (OSU Honey Bee Lab) are interested in exploring this interesting aspect of swarm biology with the help of citizen scientists (our beekeepers) by examining as many swarms as possible. If you would like to be a part of this research, then please let us know ASAP if you happen to successfully capture a swarm and know the parental hive from which the swarm had issued.

Study process / method: If you witness a low hanging swarm that can be easily accessed and captured without any risk / hazard, and you also know for sure the source of that swarm (parental hive), then you can be a part of this study. Once the swarm is settled on a branch or other substrate, that swarm needs to be hived carefully in a single story hive with eight or ten frames (frames can be empty or with some honey and pollen). We recommend hiving the swarm at least 15 feet away from the parental hive with the entrance facing in a different direction. This will minimize the chance that foragers in the swarm drift back into the parental colony.

Then the worker bee population should be estimated in both the captured swarm (in the single-story hive) and the parental hive (original hive that swarmed). Coverage of frames with bees in both colonies need to be estimated ideally within 24 hours (best) and latest within 72 hours and at a time of day when bees are not flying (mornings, evenings).

We can help you estimate the worker population. Beekeepers in Central Oregon please call Heike Williams at 541-seven four zero-7877.

Appreciate your help in increasing the body of knowledge regarding swarming.

Ramesh Sagili, Ph.D. Professor-Apiculture Oregon State University Honey Bee Lab

Sign up for COAREC Saturdays in the Apiary

In 2023 Saturday in the Apiary is scheduled to take place on second Saturdays in the month (subject to change depending on weather conditions and/or Heike’s schedule).        
                June 10 10 am to 12 pm                  
                July 8 10 am to 12 pm                  
                August 12 10 am to 12 pm                  
                September 9 time TBD                             
                October 14 1-3 pm                                 

              December date and time TBD            

Saturday in the Apiary Survey: Thanks to those of you who filled out the survey. If not yet please help me to understand how I can improve these interactive workshops further by filling out and submitting the survey by May 15. I appreciate your feedback no matter if you are a regular or sporadic participant, never attended or just heard of SitA.

Link to the survey: 

COAREC Saturday in the Apiary Survey 

Best, as always,
Heike Williams | Bio Science Research Technician - Apiculture | Central Oregon Agricultural Research and Extension Center | Oregon State University | 850 NW Dogwood Lane | Madras, OR 97741 | p 541-475-7107  f 541-475-6390 | | COARC Website |

Upcoming events

18 Jul 2023 6:00 PM •
27 Oct 2023 • Riverhouse on the Deschutes

June 2023

in your Central Oregon apiary

Wow, what a nice way to end spring.  We went away for a week at the end on May with things still a little cold and drizzly, and on return came back to flowers everywhere and having the windows open at night.

Right now! Hopefully your bees are in high gear making babies, comb and bringing in nectar and pollen.

Because of that, we’re also right in the middle of swarm season.  If having your colony swarm isn’t in your master plan, BE PROACTIVE.  One of the main reasons colonies swarm is a feeling of crowdedness, brought on primarily by too much capped brood and honey and almost nowhere for the queen to lay eggs as well as WAY too many “bored” younger workers (just chomping at the bit to feed royal jelly to someone).  Prior to getting into this situation, make a split, steal capped brood to help another colony, replace full capped honey frames with empty DRAWN frames checkerboarded in the middle of the brood chamber……..and/or add a super, especially with at least some drawn brood. If they do swarm, be very gentle not to damage the new swarm cells in the mother hive.

While your colony is in the build up mode, you still have a great chance to correct any “issues” they’re having and still have a productive season (if not “fixed” these problems frequently won’t go away on their own).  If the pattern is quite spotty (and the mites are under control), or there are way too many drones, or they just aren’t booming like they should, or there’s something you're not happy with about their “personality”, think about requeening.  It always amazes me how many things a new virile queen will fix.

Mites.  At this point, your colony is outgrowing the mite population.  However as the month comes to an end and your colony changes from rapid growth to summer maintenance the mites WILL catch up.  Get ahead of them.  Especially your overwintered colonies, do a mite count and those that aren’t acceptable (which won’t get better on their own) get them under control (reference the HBHC tools for varroa control for details).

Finally, this is a fun time of year for us.  I really like to watch as the colony morphs from one phase to another, and there isn’t much that’s more relaxing and satisfying than discovering a bunch of frames of solid brood of various ages and calm hardworking bees while you hum “that’s the way I like it” by KC and the sunshine band.

Enjoy ( and go sunsmart)

Allen Engle

COBKA Notes - Archives

COBKA Meeting Slide/Video Archives


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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