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Great skep keeping book

 
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Ernie Farmboy
Foraging Bee


Joined: 02 Sep 2009
Posts: 141
Location: USA, Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2016 6:18 pm    Post subject: Great skep keeping book Reply with quote

Skeps- Their History Making and Use, by Frank Alston. It's published by Northern Bee Books. I have spent years looking for historical accurate sources for beekeeping in skeps. I have found a few books and the 8 part video series, Heather Skep Apiary. I believe this book is all you would need to understand skeping, making skeps and keeping bees in them. As far as I know Mr. Alston's book is the only one of it's kind.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1568
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that recommendation. I have an interest in making and keeping in skeps and will definitely look this one up.
A book that was recommended to me in this field was by Pettigrew but I haven't got around to sourcing it yet.
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Ernie Farmboy
Foraging Bee


Joined: 02 Sep 2009
Posts: 141
Location: USA, Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Barbara,
I am a bit of a bee keeping book collector. Modern and historical, I honestly love the books as much as my bees. So I couldn't help myself when you mentioned a new book I hadn't seen. Here is a source for the book on your side of the pond;
https://www.abebooks.co.uk/book-search/title/the-handy-book-of-bees/author/a-pettigrew/sortby/3/
I found a couple of sources over here and will be ordering a copy for my personal library. I will post a review here after I read it.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1568
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is so kind. Many thanks for the link and I look forward to reading your review. Do you currently have any colonies in skeps or is this a project for next year?
I had hoped to sow some long stem wheat this autumn but I acquired some new chickens unexpectedly that will not stay in their pen and have taken over my garden which has made sowing wheat a bit of a waste of time! Arrgh! They do lay beautiful dark brown eggs though!
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Ernie Farmboy
Foraging Bee


Joined: 02 Sep 2009
Posts: 141
Location: USA, Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just ordered Pettigrew's book and another called The Bee-Keepers Manual: Practical Advice, by Henry Taylor in 1855. Taylor's book appears to have skep keeping in it also. They are supposed to arrive between January 5th and January 26th. The books are reprints of the originals and it looks like the company doesn't actually print them until some one buys one.
I have built several skeps until I got good enough to make a good one. I use a tall grass that grows wild around here called Canary Orchard Grass. Under the right conditions it can grow over 6 feet tall.
I keep bees in Langstroth, Warre and Top Bar hives and my attempt is to become skilled in keeping Skeps as part of the scientific research portion in the requirements for receiving my Master Beekeeper certification.
Is it just me or do we beekeepers have a thing for chickens too? I have probably around 50 chickens of different breeds in different coops and pens around the farm here Very Happy
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Barbara
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Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the two do seem to go hand in hand and I too have well over 50 chickens of different breeds and ages. Unfortunately I currently have rather more cockerels than makes for a happy flock and since egg production is down with them moulting, chicken is currently on the menu! My main flock free ranges in the paddocks up at the yard where I keep my horses, but I now have several pens down at home too and whilst all the others stay where they should, these new Marans have taken over the place and will not stay in their pen. They even chase my cats out of the garden and the cats are proper farm cats and good rabbiters! Need to find time to make an escape proof pen or move them up to the yard with the main flock but numerous cockerels need to be invited to dinner before I can do that.

I'm jealous that you have such long wild grasses that are suitable for basket work. There is one here that grows to about 4ft which I've tried using and works ok but I think perhaps I didn't harvest it early enough so it was a bit brittle and it isn't common and grows in small patches. This year there was much less of it and since I had purchased a sheaf of thatcher's straw with the ears still attached I planned to sow the grains from those for next year.

Like you, I'm still practicing my skep making skills and haven't made one good enough to permanently house a colony yet but captured several swarms with one.

I'm really impressed that you are going for your Master Beekeeper Certificate. What angle will your research take as regards skeps? I have a feeling that colonies kept in smaller volume hives like skeps, are better able to survive treatment free. They swarm earlier and have plenty of time to build up for winter. I also wonder if they are less likely to become queenless because the compact nature of the broodnest means that a problem with the queen is detected quickly and emergency cells produced.
It's just a gut feeling but then beekeeping is one of those crafts where intuition plays a big part.
I also think that for all of our scientific progress, there is a lot of old wisdom that should not be dismissed or allowed to be forgotten.
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Ernie Farmboy
Foraging Bee


Joined: 02 Sep 2009
Posts: 141
Location: USA, Olympia, Washington

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2016 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Barbara, finally getting back to you. So many projects Smile.
A correction, the grass I use for my skeps is not Canary Orchard Grass it is called Canary Straw Grass.
It absolutely fascinates me that the skep was the standard for beekeeping for 1,500 years. I want to document what goes on in a skep and just how or if it is different to modern hives.
One aspect of my research will involve hive sensors that monitor conditions in the Skep compared to modern forms of hives being kept in the same location and time.
I have designed an enclosed screen bottom board stand to place the skep on to monitor Varroa mite populations.
I agree that intuition plays a large part in keeping bees in this manner. Along with Top Bars and Langstroths I have kept bees in Warres for years. Because of the minimal management style, the Warre has the closest management style to a Skep. I have found that it takes a greater knowledge of bees to manage them less. A keeper must be able to see a lot by just watching the entrance. At the Hive Entrance, by H. Storch is a book that is a great source for developing this skill.
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SueBee
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Joined: 24 May 2013
Posts: 115
Location: United States, Pacific Northwest, Camas

PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm excited to see this thread, and will look up the books on skep beekeeping. This spring, I hope to have four colonies in skeps that I'm making. So far, I have one colony doing well in the Sun Hive I made this past spring. I have one completed skep, and another half done.

I just found some good videos on weaving with cattail leaves, and will plan on collecting and drying some of these this summer.

Barbara, when you use whatever grasses you find for weaving, be sure to collect them when they still have a significant amount of green in them. The totally brown grasses get too brittle to weave well.
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