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


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.

Upcoming events

23 Jan 2018 6:00 PM (PST) • Bend Environmental Center
10 Feb 2018 9:00 AM (PST) • Central Oregon Community College
27 Feb 2018 6:00 PM (PST) • Bend Environmental Center

Ah, it's December. If you are in the apiary, you are probably wearing a coat.  It’s time to relax a little, and maybe consider where we’ve been and contemplate where we are going.

If you are like me, you spent some time getting your hive(s) ready for winter earlier this fall.  Counting mites, and treating as necessary, and making sure the hives have enough stores. 

I do like to try a new thing or two each year.  As much as bee keeping looks the same now as it did 30 years ago, many things have changed and many new things have been learned about our friends the bees. This fall my new thing is top insulation. Accomplished by adding a layer of burlap (potato sacks or coffee bean sacks folded) and a layer of foam insulation on top of that, above the inner cover which has a feeder hole in it to allow moisture through, in an old shallow super box. This is to absorb moisture into the burlap, reducing moisture buildup in the hive and provide additional insulation. Then the telescoping cover on top of it all.  I also blocked or reduced the upper entrances of most of my hives to reduce air infiltration, as the upper entrance in winter is usually left open to provide air circulation and thus reduce moisture accumulation. With the burlap for moisture absorption the hives theoretically don’t need that.  We will see if this was a good idea depending on how deep the snow gets. Sometimes if your hive isn’t high enough, snow might block the lower entrance.  In addition to that I wrapped the hives in tar paper as I usually do. 

            It’s really hard to say from personal experience whether new things are effective just from my personal results.  The sample sizes (number of hives) I have aren’t large enough to tell me for sure in the spring whether it was the mite treatments, or the additional insulation, the mild winter, or the three stanzas of “I’m an Old Cowhand” I sang for them that helped them survive through the winter (or not).  I just have to go with recognized and accepted “best practices”, and things that make sense to me and hope for the best. 

            I go into winter expecting that my hives, or most of them, will survive.  But, that doesn’t always happen and may not this year.  Last winter beeing a good example of unexpected complications.  Three feet of snow that stayed around for more than a month, mice in 3 of my hives, etc. (I made sure my hive entrances have good mouse guards on them this year too.)

             Did you get honey from your hive(s) this year?  I hope so.  I look at it as the reward for the work.  It’s like a garden.  You plant, water, tend, and harvest.  Of course not everyone gets honey. New bee keepers often don’t in central Oregon. But, maybe next year will be more successful for those who didn’t.

            As to where we are going, after 20 or so years, many ups and downs, and a separate shed full of odds and ends of bee equipment, I have learned a little planning and forethought goes a long way toward a successful next season. However, I’d say, don’t be in a hurry this month to get bee things done. Christmas is just down the road, take time to enjoy it, and maybe give away some of that honey if you have it and can let go of it.  It’s always a good and treasured gift. 

            Try to do a little bee reading or research on the side, and have a conversation or two with friends and mentors to help sort out what went right and what went wrong this last bee year. This will help when you are plotting out the future.  Trying to decide whether to buy more new and trick bee things, or stick with what you have.  Buy new queens, or let the bees requeen themselves etc.  Be willing to listen and share your experiences with others too.  In other words, be a mentor as well as a student when you can.  We will both learn something.  Meanwhile, Merry Christmas.

See you in the new year.


Thanks to Dennis for these December notes!

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