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  1. #1
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    Embarrassed Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Hello to all,

    do You know "Heathland Beekeekping" in Germany? There are interesting films about this traditional way of beekeeping in straw skeps.

    You can find 8 nice films on this site: http://www.honey-bees.de/videos/75-h...ry-videos.html

    The films show the old European Heather Bee Apis mellifera mellifera (Dark European Honey Bee), kept in bee straw skeps. The film was made in the 1970 years in the Northern German area "Lüneburger Heide" near Hamburg. Today this traditional way of beekeeping has been replaced by modern Langstroth or Dadant bee hive magazines.

    Best regards from Germany
    Kai

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    I have seen the videos and they are amazing! Its too bad that they are not all in one film.

    Ihr Freund, Kleine Johan

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    The films are fascinating and make me wonder what became of the beekeeper? Does anyone still keep bees that way?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Looks like they still have at least some skeps in operation.
    http://www.imkerei-klindworth.de/

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Hello,

    sorry for my English

    Only a very very few beekeepers work in this way with his bees. It is traditional and not very productive, but very amazing and "romantic".

    My bees are kept in Dadant hives, but some colonies I have in such old straw skeps, just for "fun" and observation how the bees do without mobile frames.

    I believe that they were straw skeps also in THE USA? Does anyone of You have information of straw skeps, imported to America from Netherland or Germany in the nineteenth century?

    Once again, here all the films (in english) of the straw skeps:

    http://www.honey-bees.de/videos/75-h...ry-videos.html

    Kai, Hamburg

  6. #6
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    Post Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post
    ...what became of the beekeeper? Does anyone still keep bees that way?
    I think in most states and I know in mine, it has been against the law for quite some time now to keep bees in skep hives, bee gums or hives that do not have removable or interchangeable frames so that the combs can be pulled out, inspected for brood diseases and then return them to the hive. I would think that every pattern of straw or woven split lath hive or skep known to man would be of a non moveable/un-removable frame design.

    I have no idea if this is still practiced where bees are housed in straw or woven skeps, but in the idealized past it ways traditional and necessary to kill the colony in order to harvest honey from a skep, and the colonies that suffered this fate most often was the strongest and healthiest colony the beekeeper owned, because in the romantic past the best colony is were the honey was, and were the honey was, is where the money is.
    Last edited by Scrapfe; 11-03-2011 at 01:43 PM.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    If you watch the films they show how they do it. They don't kill the whole colony, just the brood. This is still not good but different from what you were saying.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scrapfe View Post
    where bees are housed in straw or woven skeps, but in the idealized past it ways traditional and necessary to kill the colony in order to harvest honey from a skep, and the colonies that suffered this fate most often was the strongest and healthiest colony the beekeeper owned, because in the romantic past the best colony is were the honey was, and were the honey was, is where the money is.
    To find out more about me go to
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrapfe View Post
    I think in most states and I know in mine, it has been against the law for quite some time to keep bees in skep hives, bee gums or hives that do not have removable or interchangeable frames so that the combs can be pulled out, inspected for brood debases, and returned to the hive. I would think that every pattern of straw or woven split lath hive or skep known to man would be of a non moveable/un-removable frame design.

    I have no idea if this is still practiced where bees are housed in straw or woven skeps, but in the idealized past it ways traditional and necessary to kill the colony in order to harvest honey from a skep, and the colonies that suffered this fate most often was the strongest and healthiest colony the beekeeper owned, because in the romantic past the best colony is were the honey was, and were the honey was, is where the money is.
    I watched these videos and was amazed at how certain management practices were accomplished within that system. And from a hygienic standpoint, i guess it seems problematic unless you consider the usual removal of brood comb?

    But i step back and look at all those methods and i see a lot of sustainability. The materials are close by and the majority of them can be fashioned with simple hand tools. Bees are transported, but not far! Bees from the apiary are used to replenish the yard. At the apiary level I see what looks like a fairly sustainable operation.

    The question of genetics is a good one: are you removing the best genetics? I look at that, and I may be wrong, but I ask 'what genetics have really been removed?'. The apiary presumably sustains the same population of bees over many years and those bees are likely mating within the yard and keeping those genetics there in that population (again, at the apiary level). Its like saying by killing the biggest buck you've hurt a deer population's genetics (and that hasn't proven to be true). You might also infer that those bees are being subjected to a passive selection process being so localized in terms of climate, weather, and local floral species/timing etc. If anything, you might have a genetic bottle neck i suppose; that dude looks like he's been at it for some time by the time the documentary takes place!

    I just think this is an opportunity to discuss this as what may be ( or have been) a very durable/sustainable bee keeping method. Thoughts?
    VT

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Quote Originally Posted by wildforager View Post
    If you watch the films ...They don't kill the whole colony, just the brood... different from what you were saying.
    If you watch and lissen to the films instead of scanning them the English commentator plainly says, and in his best clipped British English too, "...in the Fall the "Stocks are DISPOSED of..." etc etc this happens during the run up to the cutting, pressing and selling of comb and heather honey. I don't know what your definition of dispose of is but Webster's definition as of June 3 1983 is "to get rid of" and seeing that these films were copyrighted in 1979 that definition is one that the commentator would be comfortable with when he wanted to use a synonym for kill or exterminate.

    So now, if they only "got rid" of the bees in the skeps but they don't kill them, please explain to us how one is able to get rid of a "stock" a.k.a. hive of bees living in a skep without killing it. Hold me down Elisabeth and slap a spoon in my mouth, I feel an attack of sarcasm coming on!!! (I know I am going to get in trouble for saying this but here goes anyway)

    Seeing that there is an English commentator involved here, did the Saxon (German Saxon now, not an Anglo Saxon) beekeeper transport his incontinent bee stocks to the Crown Penal Colony of Australia where the British Crown once exported incontinent convicts? Instead of killing or disposing of them? Cringe!!! Cringe!!! Cringe!!! Oh, and buy the way, I have seen these films before, the least time during the past 5 years. Check out flick #2 or #3 and #7 I think it is. I hope you enjoy all the films in this series but above all watch and lissen to them and have a good day.
    Last edited by Scrapfe; 11-03-2011 at 01:58 PM.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    I just realized why skeps are housed under the roof of a shed. It is to keep the rains from loosing and washing out the cow dung waddling used to plaster the outside of the skep and sending the dung cascading down over the combs. Now I am not a prude. I would eat and enjoy this honey regardless and would like to have some. The up side to all this though is that keeping bees in skeps would likely create new and interesting honey varsities and flavors, like Black Angus, Jersey, Brown Swiss ….
    Last edited by Scrapfe; 11-03-2011 at 01:36 PM.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Yea, seems confusing doesn't it. When the films show how they shake the adult bees out and put them into another skep. Then they use sulfur strips to kill the brood in the old skeps. Video 6 @ 3:40 min. Then they over winter the new skeps with sugar water. I don't know why the commentator would say that the "Stocks are DISPOSED of..." unless he's talking about the brood.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scrapfe View Post
    If you watch and lissen to the films instead of scanning them the English commentator plainly says, and in his best clipped British English too, "...in the Fall the "Stocks are DISPOSED of..." etc etc this happens during the run up to the cutting, pressing and selling of comb and heather honey. I don't know what your definition of dispose of is but Webster's definition as of June 3 1983 is "to get rid of" and seeing that these films were copyrighted in 1979 that definition is one that the commentator would be comfortable with when he wanted to use a synonym for kill or exterminate.
    Last edited by wildforager; 11-03-2011 at 10:36 PM.
    To find out more about me go to
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    What I want to know is, where do I get one of those smokers!! Sherlock Holmes the beekeeper!
    To find out more about me go to
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Vidunderligt!!! Tak!!


    Quote Originally Posted by mrloba View Post
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    I think there's something to be said about the genetic diversity of a time like that. They let the strong swarm and the weak die. That to me sounds like a better way of keeping bees than we do now where we suppress the strong from swarming and keep the weak alive through medications/feeding. In this way we are allowing the weak to spread their genetics while we are hindering the strong from doing so.

    Amazing videos!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Quote Originally Posted by Bush_84 View Post
    I think there's something to be said about the genetic diversity of a time like that. They let the strong swarm and the weak die. That to me sounds like a better way of keeping bees than we do now where we suppress the strong from swarming and keep the weak alive through medications/feeding. In this way we are allowing the weak to spread their genetics while we are hindering the strong from doing so.

    Amazing videos!
    Bush, thats what i was trying to get at...IMO i'm seeing what looks like from my amateur eyes as relatively sustainable practices?
    VT

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Can't say that I'm not to blame. As an amateur beekeeper I have two out of my 5 hives full at the moment. After my first year my main goal is to simply keep my bees alive and healthy so that I can fill all my hives and start a few nucs in the coming years.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    Quote Originally Posted by abelius-kiel View Post
    Hello to all,

    do You know "Heathland Beekeekping" in Germany? There are interesting films about this traditional way of beekeeping in straw skeps.

    You can find 8 nice films on this site: http://www.honey-bees.de/videos/75-h...ry-videos.html
    Does anyone have the videos on CD or DVD? Youtube reduces the size etc, and I would love to show these to our bee club members in our meetings. Some do not have internet and would probably love to see those. We have monthly meetings and I think we can add them to those like 2 videos at a time. I am one of the two member from Germany, and we do have 3 more that do speak German. The other German member has two bee houses, but I use the Dadant type boxes.
    Kai, vielen Dank, thank you for posting the link. I also appreciate to hear that that apiary in German still exist.
    Klamath Basin Beekeepers Association: www.klamathbeekeepers.org
    Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/kbbafb/

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    I have downloaded the videos and edited them into one film. I don't feel comfortable reposting them to youtube without the OP's permission. Contact me off list if you want a copy.

    Thanks,
    Little John


    Quote Originally Posted by Katharina View Post
    Does anyone have the videos on CD or DVD? Youtube reduces the size etc, and I would love to show these to our bee club members in our meetings. Some do not have internet and would probably love to see those. We have monthly meetings and I think we can add them to those like 2 videos at a time. I am one of the two member from Germany, and we do have 3 more that do speak German. The other German member has two bee houses, but I use the Dadant type boxes.
    Kai, vielen Dank, thank you for posting the link. I also appreciate to hear that that apiary in German still exist.
    To find out more about me go to
    www.broomsbylittlejohn.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Videos: Heathland Beekeeping in straw skeps

    I contacted the company and with the help of google translator I was able to ask if they would sell me a german smoker. They said "sorry we do not export". Maybe I can find one of those smokers elsewhere or find a friend in Germany who can help.


    Quote Originally Posted by mrloba View Post
    To find out more about me go to
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