Central Oregon



The Central Oregon Beekeeping Association has pollinator friendly seed available to anyone. Please contact cobkaseeds@gmail.com for information.

Upcoming events

17 Aug 2021 6:00 PM • Bend Environmental Center


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.

July in your Central Oregon Apiary

It seems like it’s been awhile since we saw this many days of 90’s and 100’s this early in the year.  I find that where I live, there is usually a dearth in the latter part of June and early July in the natural areas.  This year seems to bear that out. I’m still seeing the Oregon sunshine and some penstemons.  The sagebrush is preparing to bloom and even the rabbitbrush is starting to color a bit (that’s usually in August where I live).

At this time, the risk of swarming is greatly lessened as the bees are not still working on their build up, but instead, on maintaining population and bringing in stores for winter.  Several items to consider this time of year.  Make sure to give your bees the space to put this honey.  Langstroth hives need to have a super if the population has filled the lower boxes to 70-80%.  TBH and long hives need to move the follower board to give enough room for honey as well as brood, or if you’re maxed out, perhaps remove a couple of frames/bars of honey either for your use or to store for winter emergency feeding.  If you have a Langstroth hive, think about a queen excluder to keep brood out of the honey supers unless you use a different technique.  If you don’t use a honey super and she lays in the super, find the queen, ensure she’s in a brood box, then add a queen excluder to let the current brood in the super emerge then they can fill it with honey.

This is the time of year, when both with new colonies, as well as with existing colonies, the mite populations can be catching up with the bee populations.  It’s an excellent time to count your mites.  Remember the mite drop you see on the sticky board or bottom board doesn’t give you an estimate of the number of mites in the hive, but only the number of mites that fell onto the sticky board.  A sugar shake or alcohol wash does give you a good indication of the number of mites in the hive.  If the percentage is higher than your threshold, treat as is appropriate for your mite control philosophy.  You do need to keep in mind the ambient temperatures, as well as whether you have honey supers on, or are planning on harvesting honey from a TBH or long hive.  A good idea is to follow the recommendations (as well as helpful videos) from the Varroa toolbox at the Honey Bee Health Coalition website.

Finally, if you have any hives that are not thriving, July is the last best time to fix them.  You’ll be harvesting honey in August and, hopefully, raising winter bees, so they need to be at their best this month.  If you’re seeing eggs and 1 to 3 day brood, but very few mature brood (dry brood syndrome), or just not many bees, or mild EFB, you might consider adding some brood frames from a nuc or another hive to bolster the population.  If the queen is laying lots of drones, or a very spotty pattern (assuming the mite count is good) consider replacing the queen.  If the mites are too high, treat.  If the food stores are low, consider an inside feeder and a robbing screen.

Good luck and enjoy your summer.

Allen Engle

At our July meeting we're excited to meet both IN PERSON & online!

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!

COBKA Monthly Notes Archives

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software