Can I open them yet?

“Can I open them yet? Can I? Can I?” The child ogles the gift of a box of sweets.  “Ah, go on, let me open them.”  Five minutes later “Can I open them now?”  The beekeeping forums are littered with it, the annual plaguing of the Sages for the answer that they want to hear.  I mean, after all it is spring isn’t it?  “Go on, go on, say Yes. Pleeeeeese!” The answer from the sage beekeepers across the world is the same answer, the one they give to absolutely every beekeeping question. “It depends.”  For heaven’s sake, for once could there be a simple answer?

I find myself accidently just happen-to-be-passing-by and calling in to see my hives more often now. The bicycle is getting good use. Are there bees at the entrance? Are there any bees flying in and out? Is that a bee carrying pollen? Yes, yes and YES! Yippee! Except for one poor hive which by the look of it were just too small to survive the cold. But let’s not think about that loss now.  I need the stars to align to open my hives to give the first inspection of the year.  

Here’s what I need:

  • Dry spell
  • Temperature 15oC or above
  • Calm day
  • Sunny day
  • Mid-day or early afternoon
  • Weekend preferably Saturday (so it doesn’t interfere with the job that actually pays my bills and helps finance this expensive hobby).
  • The decks cleared of other commitments – not so difficult now these days with lockdown and all that.

Oh, and all the usual equipment.

Hive tool – I’ve left so many buried in the grass near a hive which has been lost for ever to the hive-tool goblins that surround every beehive. Once left out of your hand finding said hive tool is a challenge enhanced by the disturbed guard bees dive-bombing because you dared take off the roof of their hive to lovingly inspect them. They’re a possessive lot the goblins. I’m sure some of these goblins live in my shed! For more on hive tools and frames see my blog post Framed

·       BEESMASTER. goblin of the bees
  • Smoker – fuel for smoker for which we are spoiled for choice – see blog post Smokin’
  • Something to light the smoker – see Smokin’
  • Bee Suit – with no holes!! The bee suit needs a thorough inspection before heading out.
  • Duct tape and sharp knife (many uses for both) – like battling Goblins and tying them up!
  • Gloves – leather, household gloves or latex, or perhaps I’ll bring all three types.
  • Some frames with foundation in case I find any damaged one or ones that desperately need to be swapped out as frames can get very dirty even in one year in a hive.
  • A hive box to keep the fresh frames of foundation in.
  • A hive brush or something to clean off the hive floors which have been collecting all sorts of dross all winter.
  • Oh, and I mustn’t forget my wellies.
Photo sent to be by Basil O’Sullivan, thank you.
Photo by Basil O’Sullivan

So…. can I open them yet? Can I? can I?

Stars aligning
Cover photo from NASA
This artist’s concept illustrates Kepler-47, the first transiting circumbinary system — multiple planets orbiting two suns – 4,900 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Cygnus. The system was detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.


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