Central Oregon Beekeeping Association               

COBKA Field day Sept 25th, in Sisters

Inspection, Mite counting, Winterization demos

Upcoming events

25 Sep 2021 12:00 PM •

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

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.

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September Notes from a Central Oregon Apiary

Aaah, September is here.  The nights are getting cooler with occasional early freeze nips (not counting the nips reported by our northern contingent between Madras and Prineville during August.)  This is the month when I expect the first harder frost and will start covering delicate stuff in hopes of prolonging the veggies and flowers just a little longer. 

I’m finding the rabbit brush is pretty much gone, however there is still some sage brush blooming.  Domestic flowers, at least the hardier and later blooming ones seem to provide some forage through the month.

There are a couple of schools of thought around Fall maintenance, primarily around when to harvest.  For my bees, I like to have removed the supers in mid to late August, evaluate the hives for queen strength, for food stores, done a mite count and initiate treatments if necessary.  If I haven’t done these during late August, I’ll do them early September.

Remember in September the colony is in the second part of raising Winter bees so needs to be as strong and healthy as possible.  Therefore in September I like to work on the various problems and issues with the colonies.   As was pointed out in August, you still have time and availability, early in the month for requeening.  With the cooler weather and the lack of honey supers, the choice of mite treatments opens up dramatically (some of the essential oils ones aren’t quite as effective when the temperatures are colder though.)  I generally like to provide a pollen party or substitute for all hive at least once early in the month to help with winter bee production (kind of like a multivitamin, it probably or might help, but won’t hurt anything). For those colonies that are light on stores, I feed 1:1 syrup the first half of the month and 2:1 the second half. (Try to feed “inconspicuously”, preferably inside the hive.  Outside can encourage robbing especially now when all colonies are looking for that little bit of extra forage, and once started, robbing is very hard to stop)  If you have colonies that are weak, consider either combining with another week colony, or adding several frames of capped brood from your spare parts nuc.

With respect to your honey harvest, the earlier you can extract, the easier the honey will come out, both from temperature as well as water content.  If you wait until November or December, you may need to spend hours or days waiting for that “molasses in January” to come out.  There are at least three schools of thought about what to do with “wet” extracted supers.  Set them outside to get robbed out.  Set them atop a colony to be cleaned, or store them wet.  I find storing them wet works well for me.  It doesn’t seem to attract wax moths or other pests if stored carefully and I believe tends to draw the bees into the super earlier and more easily next year.  For me, setting them out to get robbed encourages fighting and robbing in the apiary, and I find removing them from another hive after getting cleaned causes mor disruption to that hive.....HOWEVER...... there are many beekeepers who do each of these methods successfully, so you need to choose your method.

Enjoy the wonderful Fall season.

Allen Engle

At our September Club Meeting we're planning a Beekeeper's Field Day!

“Voiceless Flowers”

among greenery

quiet blossom safari

olfactory binds

Naomi Price, 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!

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