Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bees and Hives...

Bees traditionally were kept in a variety of houses. The quintessential beehive shaped ones were known as 'skeps'.

They were a very inefficient way of looking after honey bees, as one had to destroy the skep and scatter the colony to get the honey out.

Skeps are still good if you want to promote pollination in your garden and provide a home for bees without wanting the honey. They also make nice garden ornaments.

They can be made from rope, or more traditionally, straw. I am going to have a go at making some for around Willowbrook, and also to sell in our park store.

They were kept in small holes in a walled garden. The holes or alcoves were known as boles (see below)

The modern moveable beehive was only invented in 1851.

Hopefully tour hives will atract a lot of honey bees, which are in decline in New Zealand thanks to the Varroa mite.


  1. Interesting posts, I agree, those skeps are very decorative.
    You mentioned your park this up and running and if so where is it located? I would be interested in paying a visit when we are home for 4 weeks over Christmas.

  2. Alas, the shop will not be up and running for another 12 months at least. We are still in the stage of negotiating with suppliers as well as getting our own lines of produce up and running. We are going to operate the shop out of one of the wings of the 'stable' block. We have a posting coming soon about our inspiration for the shop and the type of plans we have in mind...
    If you have any suggestions for things that you would like to see available in the shop, or other suggestions, we would love to hear from you.


  3. I loved your post on bees. My father was a beekeeper(despite being terribly allergic).The sound they make when you press your ear to the hive is one of my favourite sounds eva. Alas poor bees they are dwindling in number, so I think the skeps are wonderful, cheers Katherine

  4. Good for you, in trying to protect and encourage the honey bees.

    I'm installing apiaries, also, and doing a "crash course" in beekeeping.

    It's frightening to realise how threatened the worlds food supply is,with the decline of the honey bees.

  5. I've just discovered your blog and am having a thoroughly delightful time reading about your projects.

    With regard to bees, please consider looking into Top Bar hives -- they're very low maintenance/low chemical/low interferences, and can be made to look quite charming.

    Best of luck in all your endeavors!


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