Bees in a skep

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MrMicawber 

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Long story short - a member of our assoc has been given a skep containing an established colony of bees which are living in it in the 'old fashioned' way.

The original owner captured a swarm in it and just flipped the skep over, raised one edge and let the bees install themselves in it.

The skep is now absolutely jam packed with comb containing all the usual good stuff (stores, brood etc) and weighs an absolute ton.

It is a fascinating thing to see and the hope is that we can somehow get the bees out of the skep and keep it for interest/demo purposes while at the same time preserving the colony and setting them up in a modern hive.

It is currently sitting on top of the frames of a brood box inside a WBC hive with the earlier idea that they might have moved down into the box.

This has completely failed to happen and it is too late to expect them to set up as a new colony anywhere this season.

The plan is to let them over-winter as they are and see what can be done next Spring.

We only need to coax the queen out and I suppose the job could then be done with a crown board and a bee escape, but the skep cannot be banged or shaken as it will destroy the comb and almost certainly kill or trap the queen.

I'm sorry if the above reads a bit like an examination question, but any ideas from fellow beesters will be very welcome!
 
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kazmcc 

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When I did the training, I was told that bees in a skep have to be killed to get the produce. I will be interested to read what people suggest, I'm new to beekeeping so I'm clueless ;)
 

MrMicawber 

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Yes, that was the problem beekeepers struggled with throughout history until the discovery of the beespace which led to the modern hive.

I suspect there is no proper answer as if there was I dare say our ancestors would have sussed it out for themselves

(Not mine, obviously - far too thick!)
 

oliver90owner 

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bees in a skep have to be killed to get the produce.

Don't have to be, but was a common practice in long past days. Hung the skep over a burning sulphur pit. Really environmentally favourable these days!

Regards, RAB
 

kazmcc 

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bees in a skep have to be killed to get the produce.

Don't have to be, but was a common practice in long past days. Hung the skep over a burning sulphur pit. Really environmentally favourable these days!

Regards, RAB
How awful, I am attached to mine after two weeks, I don't know how anybody could do that after a whole year of tending them :(
 

kazmcc 

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Nice link Poly Hive, might have a read of this if I have time ;) Seems a much better way of doing things me thinks :)
 

Vortex 

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This guy might be able to help http://www.martinatnewton.com/page2.htm
From reading through his material, getting the bees out very much depends upon whether the skep has a solid base or not.
If not, so it's like a basket, make a frame that will support the skep(inverted), and a brood box above it. Modify a crown board, invert the skep into the frame, place the crown board above, then a brood box, then a crwon board and roof.
The bees will migrate themselves, although I suspect it may bee too late to do it this year.
 

Drew 

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I went on a skep making course with Martin.....

He had an example Skep with removable frames.....
actually he had example skeps of just about every sort....

A fun course well worth it if you get the chance!!

I only made a "mini-skep" but Martin lets you take enough straw and binding to finish at home if you want to make a big/full sized one for swarm catching or whatever........ and he is a great bloke to chat to (well like most Beeks... or ex-beeks in Martins case)
 

Midland Beek 

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You want a couple of driving hooks/rods or whatever they are called. Find the oldest geezer at the association - he might have a pair.
 

Teemore 

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Agree with PolyHive - haven't checked the link but I do have a few older BeeBooks and some articles Commissioned by the Royal Dublin Society in the mid 1700's. One of these articles focused on humane management of Bee Colonies; it suggests inverting the skep beneath a newly prepared skep and 'drumming' the sides of the old skep. It also refers to judicious use of tobacco smoke to aid the process!!
You should be able to invert your skep beneath a new brood box - and smoke/drum the bees up into it in the same way you might smoke a swarm up into a swarm collecting box. Just check that the Queen makes the move into the new accomodation....
 

Monsieur Abeille 

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Could you place the skep upside down in a broodbox (or two) with another brood box and foundation on top? Just thinking of the tendancy to go upwards
 

oliver90owner 

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I might be thinking of nectar and grubs going down the very slight hill. May not be a problem, but doubt many have experience of an upside down colony. The rotating- brood hive presumably worked OK, though.

Rgards, RAB
 

newportbuzz 

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would it be worth trying that chemical you can get to clear your supers put in the top of the skep drive the bees out the bottom then add a q excluder so queen cant get back in.
 

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