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 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.
COBKA April Notes
If you haven’t yet, do a post-mortem on your dead outs, to figure out possible issues (mites, starvation, moisture in the hive, queenless, aliens - and make a mental note for future husbandry). If you are getting bees this spring, get your hives assembled or your current equipment cleaned, fixed and checked for diseases.
Make sure you have your order in ASAP as most suppliers have strict time and number limits. When you get your package or nuc, feed them sugar water (ratio by volume 1 part sugar to 1 part water) for at least 30 days to help them get established.
You should know by now whether your over-wintered hive has a laying queen by having inspected for eggs and brood. And, you can have a pretty good idea as to whether your hive is building up as it should.
An overwintered hive that has a good queen should be getting fairly strong by now, and is probably thinking about swarming (See Below). If it’s not doing well, check for mites and other pests and diseases, treat per your plan and think about requeening.
Most established hives are bringing in enough nectar right now to support themselves because the fruit trees are all blooming (it seems like another early spring). Especially if you live in town, your hive should be doing quite well. If you think it is weak, call one of the club members and have a conversation about it. A wizened and experienced old beekeeper told me that with the next couple weeks being pretty crummy weather with very few flight days after the huge spring buildup, we should be careful to ensure even the strong colonies don’t go through their stores and starve. Be prepared to restart feeding if necessary.
For established, overwintered hives, inspect your hive to see where the brood nest is. If it's in the top box (Langstroth), rotate your bottom and top boxes so the queen and brood nest is in the bottom box. Don’t, however split the brood chamber if it is centered over the joint of the two boxes.
The next order of business for you this month might be to check for queen cells. If you are planning to split your hive(s), or if you are considering trying to prevent swarming, (not an easy task) start checking now! You must check every 7 days and remove the queen cells to prevent swarming. If you don't care, or aren't comfortable about trying these things yet, don't worry. Most likely if your hive swarms, it will requeen itself and be just fine, although set back a month or so in buildup. If you want to split your hive, remember the new queen needs a week to 10 days after emerging of warmer (60 degrees plus) for orientation and mating.
Other things to do:
Treat for mites, or not. Your hive, your choice. But, I think some kind of treatment is advisable. If you haven’t already, and want to, now is a good time to knock ‘em down a notch. I am going to treat my hives with formic acid pads. (MAQS)
Watch the bees and enjoy.
-Dennis (2015 edits by Allen)
Thursday April 9th at 6:00pm
*Steering committee at 5:00pm