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Starting this blog for those who are interested in skep beekeeping.

I do not keep bees in skeps and am quite happy with my Nationals but I get the impression there are plenty on here who might consider the former. From my perspective, if the advice of many on the forum about the more common moveable frame hives cannot sway you, I'd rather that there is some advice to maximise your chances of success and somewhere where questions can be asked without any slanging. The bees come first.

I would ask those who might want to discuss on this blog to consider this before responding to others, whatever your view. It is fine to challenge but do it constructively. If someone irks you, be the bigger person. Let's leave the faeces for cladding skeps with!

As a first post, and this is outside of my expertise so they may be irrelevant, I will suggest some potential issues and ask that those who have experience, ideas or relevant knowledge give pointers, even if not skep keepers. I probably won't be very involved but if it gets cantankerous I'll go running to the mods, so there.

  • A straw skep does not offer much insulation or protection from the harsher weather. As such overwintering is a potential concern. Some form of shelter (e.g. Bee boles) is probably going to be useful.
  • If coating it in faeces, check with the farmer that the livestock it's from haven't been wormed recently. Many wormers have an insecticidal activity.
  • Inspections will be hard/impossible. How do skep keepers monitor for diseases and is it possible to mitigate the risk of swarming?
 
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I’m not disputing that it’s another way to keep bees. I’m not against it at all. It just seems invasive.
Isn't the langstroth and various iterations of it, invasive? You open up a hive and tear the frames apart to do your inspections! A skep is less invasive.
 

emmac79

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I’m not disputing that it’s another way to keep bees. I’m not against it at all. It just seems invasive.
I don't think it's nearly as invasive as other ways. But yeah, to each their own. I'm glad you can respect the different perspective.

For me, when I heard about skeps during my beekeeping course, something just *clicked* for me and I wanted to find out more.

Same as with growing food. I watched a video from a grower that just made everything *click* because his style suited my personality. It applies to everything in your life. Some things just speak to you more than others.
 

Erichalfbee

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I have bees in a box in a tree at the bottom of my garden. I admit they would look nicer in a large skep. They are there for their own sake. I must admit I am interested in how long the colony survives unmolested. Once colony lasted 2 years. This one is in its third year and seems to be thriving. I’ve caught swarms from it in three years
I like honey so I keep bees just for that in cube boxes.
So for me basically it’s nice to look at bees in pretty container, so I’m with you there, but that doesn’t involve actually keeping them.
 

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But you can add skep supers to them, you can still check for swarm cells, to an extent and inspect for disease.
Yes I’ve seen skep supers. Do you ever get the queen up there or do you use a QX? How do you check for swarm cells and disease.
 
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Yes I’ve seen skep supers. Do you ever get the queen up there or do you use a QX? How do you check for swarm cells and disease.
I don't keep skeps, but I saw their use when I first started beekeeping. The old zinc slotted excluders cut to size. To check for swarm cells and disease you would have to break the propolis seal and upturn the skep. If you suspected disease then you can cut out all the comb and check, then use wooden skewers to reattach the comb, this is more invasive method for the bees. There are other methods like using a mesh floor with incorporated inspection tray. You can even feed a skep that has a flat top and hole in the middle to it and add wooden boxes with frames.
 

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You can even feed a skep that has a flat top and hole in the middle to it and add wooden boxes with frames.
So put a National hive on top?
I think I’d rather have a Sun hive. At least the frames are moveable and they really are works of art.
 

pargyle

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If you look at the Sun Hive, you can add wooden boxes on top. Maybe a National on top! I wonder what Heidi would make of that. :)
I think you would find Heidi probably already has .... she has hives of al sorts .... the sun hive is just one of them ...

 
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I think you would find Heidi probably already has .... she has hives of al sorts .... the sun hive is just one of them ...

Interestingly there is a natural beekeeping group in Portsmouth, one in South Wales just north of Porth and a Scottish one, north of Dunblane, to name but a few.
 

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I don't think it's nearly as invasive as other ways. But yeah, to each their own. I'm glad you can respect the different perspective.

For me, when I heard about skeps during my beekeeping course, something just *clicked* for me and I wanted to find out more.

Same as with growing food. I watched a video from a grower that just made everything *click* because his style suited my personality. It applies to everything in your life. Some things just speak to you more than others.
if you real like see things growing then with bees to watch them growing in all them stages and study them behavior and them life cyrcle guess you need a hive that you can inspect

i do no think skep give you this chance ,jep its more romantic but exclude you from many phases of bees life
 

emmac79

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if you real like see things growing then with bees to watch them growing in all them stages and study them behavior and them life cyrcle guess you need a hive that you can inspect

i do no think skep give you this chance ,jep its more romantic but exclude you from many phases of bees life
I have two top bar hives
 

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