Central Oregon




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. 

Volunteer to bring snacks for one of our monthly meetings

Upcoming events

24 Mar 2018 1:00 PM (PDT) • OSU Central Oregon Ag Research Center
27 Mar 2018 6:00 PM (PDT) • Bend Environmental Center
24 Apr 2018 6:00 PM (PDT) • Bend Environmental Center
22 May 2018 6:00 PM (PDT) • Bend Environmental Center
26 Jun 2018 6:00 PM (PDT) • Bend Environmental Center


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.


Can you save that weak hive in the spring?

Counting losses

Bee Prepared

  March 2018 in the apiary may be a bit of an optimistic assumption.  It’s looking more like March in the garage.  We probably won’t be able to do much work with the bees themselves until at least mid March.  The weather man is predicting two days in March 50 degrees or over as of today (February 28).  March 15th and March 29th.  Hopefully he is wrong, and we will get a few more, but we probably shouldn’t count on it.  That’s not unusual this time of year.  We had a warm late January and early February in Central Oregon. That got we beekeepers to thinking and talking about the coming spring season as if it were just around the corner.  Well, it looks like it could be a long corner from here.  However, spring will get here, and when it does, things will happen fast.

  The bees aren’t asleep in those hives, they are ramping up their brood rearing if they have the capacity.  Thereby increasing their population so that when April and May come they can be ready to take advantage of the fresh spring nectar flows and pollen to swarm (make new hives the old fashioned way) and to start socking away stores for the next year.  They are the original boy scouts (or girl scouts?).  “bee prepared” is their motto. 

  So the question is, how can we help, or should we help?   If your hive(s) went into winter with good stores and good populations they should be in good shape to build up for spring and probably don’t need help as far as stores and population are concerned.  If their population is low and/or they are low on stores, you can supplement stores with either fondant or dry sugar or damp sugar patties laid above the frames, or above the inner cover if it has a hole in it.  Or possibly by moving full frames of honey from the outside of the hive closer to the cluster if you have them.  A pollen patty or pollen substitute patty wouldn’t do any harm either.  That won’t help lack of population but it may help to prevent starvation in late winter.  Bees don’t store fat on their bodies for lean times like we can (boy howdy!).  When they run out of honey or sugar stores, or can’t get to them because it’s too cold, they are goners. 

  If the population is very low, combining a small colony with a larger one can save the bees from freezing.  It won’t save the hive, there can be only one queen once they are combined, and hence one hive, but the remaining hive should be stronger.  The bees will work out which queen survives if you can’t find her, probably the queen of the stronger hive.

  It’s worth remembering that even if you attempt to do something for a weak hive for whatever the reason, it won’t always work.  So, don’t count your survivors yet, it will be at least mid April before we can know for sure.

  I’ve written here mainly about existing hives, but a short note to the budding bee keepers among us.  Now is the time to be assembling and painting your hives for spring.  Alos, verifying sources for nucs, packages and new queens. Bee season is coming fast.  Be like the bees: Bee Prepared.

Dennis Gallagher


  Well that didn’t take long. Here is is March 6th and the weather man now says 13 of the 26 days left in March will be 50 degrees or over.  (The rest of the cooler days are predicted to be close to 50.)  That means you can probably risk feeding sugar syrup, if you need to, to supplement a hive that’s low on stores and the bees will be able to take it up. Those that don’t need supplemental feeding can be fed sugar syrup also.  If you are feeding to supplement a hive, feed sugar syrup that is made of 2 parts sugar to 1 part water by weight or volume (they are very close to the same) for the first few weeks.  The bees will have less work to do to get the syrup to where it is useful to them.  If the hive doesn’t need supplementing but you want to feed just to be nice and to stimulate the hive to raise more brood faster, you can feed 1 to 1 sugar to water.  This simulates an early nectar flow.  Just be aware that your hive may be ready to swarm earlier in the spring than it would be if not fed the extra syrup.

  There will also be some very cold nights still to come, don’t leave glass syrup containers on the hive (like on a Boardman feeder in the hive entrance on really cold nights) for a few more weeks so you don’t end up with broken (frozen) syrup containers. 

  Of course, the weather prediction may change again and could be colder or warmer, that’s just one of the benefits of living where we do during this time of year. So keep your eye on the predictions if a change might effect your choices.  (Now you know how a farmer feels in the spring.)  Good luck this spring and summer, and have fun with your bees.


Thanks to Dennis for writing this month's notes!

"In the Apiary" Archives

PC's: (Members) Clyde, Misty, Rachel, Naomi, Emily 

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