Homemade skep?

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Bee Me Up

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Nov 30, 2009
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I saw this excellent webpage today on how to make your own skep out of straw and cord made out of brambles - for that traditional medieval beehive look! Has anyone had any experience of this in practice? I'm thinking about making one and just leaving it at the bottom of the garden to see whether it gets used! Is this just a daft idea? - I'm only just getting into the idea of bee-keeping and thought this could be a nice little place for "wild" ones to play in before I started to get too seriously into the subject, or would I need to introduce a queen before any bees started colonising it?!

So much to learn! :confused:
If you put just a queen on her own into any hive/skep she will die as there wont be enough bees for them to start drawing out wax, allowing the queen to lay eggs in as in a normal colony or nuc. I know you are just beginning but you really need to start reading up on all things bee related and try and get onto a bee keeping course this will give you a basic understanding of how a colony of bees work.
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Beemeup can please you post a link to the site as I'm interested.

Anyone else know where I can acquire a cheap skep?
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Thought I saw some on flea bay on a regular basis.

Regards Ian
There are a whole series of fairly well known beekeeping videos at this site and the page on skeps is here: http://www.iwf.de/IWF/do/mkat/listi...uche&SearchStr=skep&SuchartOpt=1&AlleChk=True

The E 394 video listed at the bottom is about skep making - with brambles to tie the straw together I seem to recal when I watched it originally.

To view any of these videos click on the English language windows media version on the right of the screen. Choose Low or high depending on connection speed.

There are lots of other beekeeping videos on this site. Hours of harmless and often instructive amusement.

If it comes up in German click the appropriate flag on the screen to get it in English.
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Further to the above the English language version of the skep making video appears to have disappeared. The other skep videos do seem to have an English version.
a skep building course/day is great fun and one I have tried but to me it was to produce a thing of art rather than a practical product. I only ever see them now as displays or for shows but not as a full time bee hive. The main issue with skeps is getting hold of long straw as modern farmers plant a very short stemmed crop you will find it very hard to find a supply unless you know someone that does corn dollies. As for the process it is very simple in theroy but very hard in practise, my skep only lasted 4 years before collapsing I got it to loose when building it
What I use as a skep is the bottom 14" or so of an old alibarba laundry basket. I cut it off to the required height and bind the loose ends up.They do the job, and cost nothing.Been useing my present one for 10 years or so.
Some waste paper baskets are made out of the same sort of stuff lots available.
Hey good ideas people - reduce, reuse, recycle!

Here is the original page that I was referring to at the beginning of the thread - I wasn't sure about posting the link as the first time I posted a link on this forum, I was berated and chastised by Admin!

Anyway, here it is: http://www.martinatnewton.com/page2.htm
That's a very interesting link Bee Me Up.

The main issue with skeps is getting hold of long straw as modern farmers plant a very short stemmed crop you will find it very hard to find a supply unless you know someone that does corn dollies.

It's not only short straw, but modern combines break the straw so it's useless anyway. A good way to find long straw is to go to a good steam rally in the summer. Where they will have a working steam driven threasher. The straw for that will be long and useable.

Actually, a day course can be a great day out. John Hamer at Blackhorse apiaries, Woking usually does a good one. I went a couple of years ago to one at Johns and completed a large skep which i routinely use when collecting swarms.
He also had bees permanently in skeps at his teaching apiary.
Give it a go.

Regards Mike

Skeps are straightforward enough to make, although I would recommend using split cane in place of bramble. it saves stripping the stuff, splitting it and making it pliable. It is also stronger, so you can pull it that bit tighter. As HP says, long straw is a problem to get hold of, but a thatcher may be able to supply you with some. Alternatively, somebody with a vintage thrashing drum will probably give you the straw, and although it isnt as long as ideal, at least it hasnt been destroyed by a combine.

Making a good skep is no more difficult, but is a matter of patience, practice etc.

If you can find somebody to show you how to go on, it is easier that trying to work it out from a book.
Fascinating I think I have another project for next year now just got to shoe horn it in somewhere also I like the laundry basket approach to

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