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).

Chris Park standing next to a hackle which has a skep beneath it. The hackle gives weather protection to the straw skep. #BeehiveYourself, #WantageHoney, #SkepAndHackle, #Skep, Beehive Yourself, Wantage Honey, Chris Park
Chris Park standing next to a hackle which has a skep beneath it.

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.

A Bee Bole with Skep Inside. The bole is the indentation in the wall which gave protection to the straw skep from the elements. #BeehiveYourself, #WantageHoney, #Skep, #BeeBole, Beehive Yourself, Wantage Honey,
A Bee Bole with Skep Inside

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.

A Skep with a Cap. In this photo the skep has a cap; this is the mud coloured thing sitting onto of the straw skep. The cap is the area for collecting honey. In modern day beekeeping parlance, it is a super. #BeehiveYourself, #WantageHoney, #Skep, Beehive Yourself, Wantage Honey,
A Skep with a Cap.

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.

A Straw Skep in a WBC Hive. One way to protect a straw skep from the elements is to put it inside a WBC hive. #BeehiveYourself, #WantageHoney, Beehive Yourself, Wantage Honey,
A Straw Skep in a WBC Hive

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