Photo by Melody

Definition of bee skep

Categorized under "General"

Definition as written by Linnea:

A decorative garden item, conical in shape, usually made from braided straw. Once used to keep bees, they were discarded when hives that could be opened to harvest honey or care for the bees were developed, as the skep had to be destroyed to gather the honey. Also, it is now required that you be able to gain entrance to your hive for medication against mites, so skeps can no longer be used.

Definition as written by Dearjane:

Bee skeps were/are made of coiled straw rather than braided straw. In England, they were often made of wheat straw and the process was called lip basketry.

In America, especially among the PA Germans, rye straw was mainly used and most of the antique straw skeps found today are made of coiled rye straw bound together with bramble canes or very thin wooden splints. Today imported reed is often used for binding new skeps made by a small, but dedicated group of craftsmen, as they are very time consuming to reproduce in the old way.

Some straw skeps lasted as long as 150 years, because it was the swarm of bees that was often destroyed (in order to harvest the honey from the straw skeps), not the skep itself.


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