This is meant to be winter? No one told my honeybees whose home is in a Maisemore Polystyrene Hive – there was so much activity at the hive entrance you might be forgiven for thinking it was springtime. I would expect for a mild winter’s day for there to be some hive activity and for the bees to be taking a hygiene flight. But the scale of activity took me by surprise! Maybe it is early days to make a conclusion – but could this amount of bee activity be due to the superior insulation properties of poly-hives? See for yourself by watching the video in this post…
In today’s blog I write about weather protection for straw skeps. In 2014 when I visited Chris Park’s apiary at Watchfield, I saw this hackle and beneath it was a straw skep with honeybees living in it. Yesterday’s blog was about a straw skep with a cap (click here to read).
The straw skep needs weather protection and a hackle serves this purpose. A hackle is a teepee like structure which sits over the skep and was often made with closely bound sticks.
Back in the day, lines of teepee-like structures would be a common sight in cottagers gardens. My reading of Mr Woodley’s writings in the British Bee Journal suggest that almost every cottage kept honeybees and skeps and hackles. This was not the only way to protect a straw skep.
During my visits to historic houses, I discovered many intentional cavities in walls. These cavities were designed for housing straw skeps. Eva Crane named these cavities as Bee Boles. Please see my photograph of a bee bole at Dunfermline.
The other way is to put the straw skep in a WBC hive as the photo below shows.
I noticed two other ways to protecting a straw skep. You could apply a render to its exterior. My suspicion is that Chris Park used dung but see what you think in the photo below.
The other way to give weather protection to a straw skep is to put it inside a hive. In the photo below, Chris is surrounding the skep with WBC Hive lifts.