In October I was fortunate to attend a most enjoyable workshop at the National Honey Show where Mr. Chris Park of Acorn Education taught a small group of bee-keepers this ancient technique.
Skeps come in various shapes and sizes to suit various beekeeping needs. A smaller skep is handy for catching swarms, for example.
The shape most people are familiar with is this rounded style, illustrated here in a late 14th century book from Italy.
When my skep is completed I will need to consider how it should be kept dry. A well made skep is strong but needs a weatherproof covering, particularly if it's being used to house a colony of bees in the winter months. Having said that, it is well known that a skep may last for many years.
A grander, more expensive solution would be a specially built "bee bole" of which there is fine example at The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall
One last solution to weatherproofing my skep is to "cloom" it. I will need to visit the local farmer, taking a large bucket to collect some cow pats! Then I'll need to use these to plaster the outside of my skep. I'm told this is not an unpleasant task - and it is a fact that the result is hygienic and very satisfactory! Sometimes old techniques sound strange to us in the modern era, but a cloomed skep works very well, it's a practical and sustainable product. The photo below shows a finished cloomed skep, made by Chris Park, at the National Honey Show.
You may also like: A Visit to the home of Karl von Frisch
And you may like to visit Acorn Education