Home » Events-Next Meeting » Skep Making

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

Latest updates:

2019 Honiton Show Report

News & Events

The selfish case for saving bees: it’s how to save ourselves
These crucial pollinators keep our world alive. Yes, they are under threat – but all is not lost.  Click here to read the article.
World’s largest bumblebee under threat.
The Patagonian bumblebee, the worlds largest bumblebee, is under threat from the import of species native to Europe.The growth of the bumblebee trade for agricultural pollination since the 1980s has been identified as one of the top emerging environmental issues likely to affect global diversity.Follow this link to read the article.
Best plants for bees: 5 yr study results by RosyBee
Follow the link to see the results of 5 years of monitoring which bees visit a variety of ‘bee-friendly’ plants.
http://www.rosybee.com/research
What’s that Buzz? Plants hear when bees are coming
New research has shown that plants can ‘hear’ sounds around them and flowers respond to the buzz of approaching bees by producing sweeter nectar. The research biologists from Tel Aviv University played recordings of flying bee sounds to evening primrose flowers and found that after a few minutes the sugar concentration in the flower’s nectar had increased by 20% on average when compared with flowers left in silence or submitted to higher pitched sounds.
The authors of the report say that, for the first time, they have shown plants can rapidly respond to pollinator sounds in an ecologically relevant way.
Producing sweeter nectar in response to the sounds of bees can help entice the insects to visit the flowers and increase the chances of its pollen being distributed.
Thanks to Ann P. for spotting this article in the Times.
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.