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Skep Making

Skeps have been used in the UK for hundreds of years for housing colonies of honey bees.

Constructing skeps would have been one of many rural crafts, but with the advent of moveable frame hives this has become something of a lost art. So we felt it would be a good idea to learn from someone who has been making skeps for twenty years or more.

Mick Male from Newton Abbott branch kindly accepted our invitation. Mick is well known to Devon beekeepers as he gives demonstrations at many of the local shows. Over two weekend sessions we learned how to prepare the materials, start the skep (most people found this the trickiest part), turn the corner to make the sides and finally to finish off in a professional manner.

The straw we used is from triticale wheat, an old fashioned, long stemmed variety that would have been used in the past. Thatchers still use triticale straw so it is readily available.

The binding was rattan lapping cane from Indonesia, widely used in furniture and basket making. The photos show the process from start to finish.

The first few stitches
The inside of the base
The base taking shape
Turning the corner
The Master tidies up the loose ends
Concentration required

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News & Events

Scientists sew trackers to Asian Hornets to find and destroy nests before they kill honeybees
Britain’s beekeepers are turning to technology to prevent aggressive Asian hornets destroying their colonies. In a first successful trial, experts at the University of Exeter attached tracking devices to the backs of the voracious hornets and then followed them back to their nests.
Asian hornet information
The June edition of the BBKA News has extensive information about the Asian hornet threat. In particular, pages 209 and 210 have full colour reproductions of the Asian hornet alert document issued by the Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) for you to cut out and use as your personal guide to identification of this invasive species.
EU agrees total ban on bee-harming pesticides
More information can be found at:          https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/27/eu-agrees-total-ban-on-bee-harming-pesticides?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
LATEST ASIAN HORNET WARNING
The National Bee Unit has confirmed a sighting of a single Asian hornet in Lancashire. More information can be found in the Defra Press release:   https://www.gov.uk/government/news/asian-hornet-identified-in-lancashire