Skep Making Kit

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Michaelf 

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Hi everyone, I was recently given a pile of old Bee Craft and Bee journal books from the 1980s.
In one of the books there was an advert for a Skep making kit :smash:, obviously not available now because that was in the 80s but does anyone know where I could purchase a "kit" nowadays????
 

RoofTops 

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Hi everyone, I was recently given a pile of old Bee Craft and Bee journal books from the 1980s.
In one of the books there was an advert for a Skep making kit :smash:, obviously not available now because that was in the 80s but does anyone know where I could purchase a "kit" nowadays????
I don't know but it is possible to make all the bits you need yourself but it would be hard to describe them. Better to try and locate a skep making demonstration and see for yourself. The tools required, for the way I was taught, are a section of cow horn, although you can use the neck of a suitably sized plastic bottle and a short length of 10mm copper pipe tapered at one end.

The cow horn funnel is used to gather the straw into the "worm" which coils around to make the skep and the copper "prodder" is used to open a gap between the coils of the worm to allow the binding to be threaded, which holds it all together.

Starting the worm is quite a challenge as it needs to be very tight. Any skep making course would show you this and you should be able to come away with your own tools. Our association ran a course over a couple of days spaced a week apart so the students to carry on with the skep in the week's gap and come to the second day to finish it.
 

Juststarting 

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I found instead of the cow horm funnel that a wooden handle potato pealer with the slots knocked back in worked very well!
 

Michaelf 

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Thanks for the link "juststarting" was making your skep easy??? Will give me something to do over winter :)

Michael
 

Juststarting 

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As RT says getting started is the hardest part. Keeping everything tight and bending the straw gently is important. You need to ease it into shape rather than bend it to much - bending makes it too angular - sort of polyhedron rather than curved. It also takes much more rattan than I expected but once you get going it is slightly hypnotic and relaxing. I was really pleased with mine and intend to make a bigger one. I used the top of a drinks bottle (2ltr) as the feeding funnel but will use the top of a milk bottle (2.2ltr) to get a thicker bundle for a bigger basket.
 

Michaelf 

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Could a skep be made of materials such as thin hazel by weaving rather than tying the straw together?

Michael
 

Drew 

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This is a good site, explains the tools and making very well:-

http://www.martinatnewton.com/page2.htm
... and Martin is a really nice bloke.

He does courses - My Association organised a couple in the summer.
He will supply all the straw, willow and tools and plenty of advice and help and stories.
If you don't get finished on the day (which is likely if you do a full sized skep) you can take straw and stuff home to complete it.

I think he appears in this months Bee Craft wearing his "historic" beekeeping smock and mask (basically the bottom of a basket sewn into a pillowcase)

Actually making the skep was quite theraputic (as mentioned above) but hard work on the hands - but I do have soft "office hands"
 

RoofTops 

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Thanks for the link to Martin's site, MJBee. Some good stuff there.
 

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