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Thread: Making a skep

  1. #41

    Default Re: Making a skep

    There are small mini version of skeps that are used as "nucs" or mating hives. Small casts get combined and surplus queens are hold in those mini skeps.



    Those mini skeps are called "Pöttscher".


    They are really mini tiny!


    Pöttscher do get spales as well, since the bees are shaken out when moving into a full size skep or to catch the queen. (No other way than shaking them out to get hold of her Majesty.)

  2. #42

    Default Re: Making a skep

    There is a first version of a box hive made from straw: the Kanitz hive.

    It has a brood and honey chamber.


    The Kanitz hive comes in two versions: one that is one piece - brood and honey box combined. (But divided.) And another version

    which has two "boxes" for honey and brood. So the honey box can be taken.



    On the left a one piece Kanitz skep, on the right a two-pieces Kanitz skep.


    In the honey chamber there are frames used. The frames have to be handmade and do differ in size, because the skep was made

    handmade, too, thus the measures are all different. No frames can be swapped around between two hives.

    The frames are open to the upside or closed as in a TBH. Both versions are known.


    A queen excluder made from plastic (nowadays) or metall (in the past) between the compartments.


    The brood chamber does not hold frames but spales only.


    The lid has a nice insulation made of straw. A pretty neat construction!


    The gaps between the boxes get filled with cow dung or - as a quick solution - a shirt in stripes wrapped around the gaps. See the skep on the lower right side.

  3. #43

    Default Re: Making a skep

    If the skep was made too small or if the bees need a little more space, the "Högel" is used.


    A högel is a single ring of straw - smeared with cow dung - that extends the height of the skep a little.


    Four metall cramps/staples are used so the straw ring doesn't come off when working the hive.


    Another option for fixing the extension ring to the skep is to use four nails driven up from below right into skep's bottom ring.


    The ring gets some cow dung (of course...) to close down any gaps between skep and högel. The högel often cannot be seen anymore if you don't look very closely.

  4. #44

    Default Re: Making a skep

    Once the cow dung is dried, the skep gets starter strips of wax. Small flecks of cow dung that spilled into the inside of the

    skep are loosened and shaken out of the skep.


    The skep then is put out into full sun, so the cap of the skep warms up a little. The wax starter strips get fixed very firmly

    to the ceiling of the skep. Make sure it is firm, because otherwise the bees come down by their own weight. With combs and all!


    The skeps are covered in propolis on the inside.


    Spales are made from rose wood (or other wood that is available. One side gets a sharp point.


    The spales are driven diagonally through the skep, 90 degrees to the direction of the starter strips. The ends of the spales are

    not allowed to show on the outside and cut off.


    Spales are used in pairs on three levels. As an option the spales of the middle level are set up a diagonally to the other

    levels, which would increase the support of the combs. Especially important when moving the skeps.


    In the pöttscher only one starter strip and fewer spales are used.

  5. #45

    Default Re: Making a skep

    For skeps there are special queen "cages" for keeping queens. Skep beekeepers use self-made cages for this.

    A roundish wood gets drilled and hollowed out. Split into four and all four parts get an indentation - which form the windows later. The wood gets re-assembled again and secured with wires.

    One side gets a plug, so there is an entrance to let the queen in. The side with the entrance also has some sort of a thorn.

    That thorn is used to fix the cage to the side of the skep. The other side has a knob, so the cage can be hold comfortly.



    The queen cage gets pinned to the side wall of the skep.

  6. #46

    Default Re: Making a skep

    A demonstration, how the honey harvest gets done.

    The skep gets inspected from below for being ripe for harvesting. Ripe means, that all/most brood has hatched and little brood left. Only bees and honey can be found in the hive. (September/October)

    (The pictures shows a weaker colony that stayed home, while the stronger ones were moved into the heather. Only the strongest hives go into the heather, because the hives do wear out in the heath.)


    With a long knife or hive tool one can reach right into the combs, so you can push the combs apart and see what's going on inside.


    The skep to harvest is put right onto a smaller and flat skep, that will hold the bees shaken out of the skep.


    A rope goes round both skeps and rolled up in the hands, so both skeps are fixed to each other and can be lifted. Very carefull the skeps get shaken or thumped to the ground. This is an art. Too much thumping and bees, combs and all go down. Too little and the bees don't come out. In modern days car tires are used as a bumper to swing and shake out the bees.


    Checking (virtually) if the bees already got down.


    The harvest per hive is relatively small: about 5-10 kg of honey. (Cast swarms and all do not gather that much in their first year.)

    The bees get shaken into new skeps. Several hives are combined to make strong colonies. Bees get some feed and they build a new nest to overwinter on in September/October!

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Wow, thanks for taking teh time to put those pics in your post. I had my own ideas on teh cow dung covering, and i think i would have ben diappointed with my results. I'll use the methods shown here! I also had not considred the challenges of feeding. The shear tonnage of what I do not yet know astounds me at times. Thanks again for sharing this information!

  8. #48

    Default Re: Making a skep

    At Springtime when swarming the beekeeper is posting in front of the skep stand and awaits the swarms. (between 10 am and 4 pm.)

    While waiting for swarms the beekeeper repairs skeps and materials, making new skeps. Once the bees start running in bunches or circles on the head of the skep, thus indicating a swarm to be thrown soon, the swarm catching bag gets fixed to the skep right under the entrance. Then it gets flipped over the entrances and fixed firmly against the skep.

    For the lower level hive some sort of a hay fork is used to lift up one end of the swarm bag.


    For the upper storey a lath with a nail at it's end is used to lift the swarm catching bag.


    Once the bees slow down on pouring out of the skep, the bag is removed, closed at the lower end and hang into the shade where it remains until the evening.

  9. #49

    Default Re: Making a skep









    The interesting detail on skep stands is, that the feet don't get sinked into the ground but instead sit on stones above the ground. The stands are made from frames with legs/feet as shown in the detail picture below. The frames connected with wooden boards the skeps stand on and the roof beams. (in the picture shown you see the skeps are sealed bee-tight with ropes at the bottom.


    Not in the pictures: behind the skeps in the back, there is a laths on the floor board. It is used to stop the skeps from sliding backwards when tilting the skep to look beneath.

  10. #50

    Default Re: Making a skep

    There is an old saying, that the heath "eats up" the bees. Word-for-word that is true. The heath is covered in spiderwebs.


    Not only the bees work pretty hard to get the heath honey, but also get decimated by spiders. (That is the reason why only strong hives go into the heathlands for honey crops.)


    There are a special form of moufflons: the "Heidschnucken" which are domesticated wild sheeps. Those sheep run through the heath and destroy the spider webs. Very welcomed by the beekeepers.

    The bees really do like the skeps from what I observed.










  11. #51
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Wow, very nice!

    I may have to try this.

  12. #52
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Quote Originally Posted by KMP View Post
    If you haven't already, you'll certainly want to spend some time watching the [URL="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upbONroWPic"]Heathland Beekeeping series[/URL
    Fascinating! Many thanks for sharing!
    Серёжа, Sergey

  13. #53
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Many thanks BernhardHeuvel for such a complete lecture on the skep and it's use. Even the movie was not this informing. Great Job!
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  14. #54
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Just do it!! Skeps are kool.

  15. #55
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick 1456 View Post
    KP
    Like the Mooshiners say, "It ain't illegal till you get caught." I've thought of doing similar myself. Here's what stops me. As far fetched as or unlikely it may be, it is my device, even though a swarm moved in, it is on my property with my knowledge, therefore, I assume responsibility for it. IF and WHEN, that hive gets AFB or EFB, and another bee keeper close enough by, suffers loss from AFB/EFB, more than likely, I could be held responsible for the losses. It is the law in Maryland. The term in courts that I've heard more than once, was, "Known, or should have known." Just the way I see it. BTW, I'd make Moonshine too, but with my luck, I'd be the one ATF would want to make the example of.
    Love to see some pics,,,,,,,whoops,,,,,evidence,,,,
    Rick
    You can legally make as much moonshine as you want as long as you don't sell it.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  16. #56
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    You can legally make as much moonshine as you want as long as you don't sell it.
    As long as you don't drink it... It has to be for fuel purposes and they prefer it be toxic to humans even in that case. From ATF Q and A.

    Spirits

    You cannot produce spirits for beverage purposes without paying taxes and without prior approval of paperwork to operate a distilled spirits plant. [See 26 U.S.C. 5601 & 5602 for some of the criminal penalties.] There are numerous requirements that must be met that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal or beverage use. Some of these requirements are paying excise tax, filing an extensive application, filing a bond, providing adequate equipment to measure spirits, providing suitable tanks and pipelines, providing a separate building (other than a dwelling) and maintaining detailed records, and filing reports. All of these requirements are listed in 27 CFR Part 19.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  17. #57
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Thanks, I didn't know that. Guess I was misinformed.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  18. #58
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Part of it is the fact that stills are essentially steam bombs and can be very dangerous if operated incorrectly.

    You can make beer and wine for personal use without permits, but even that is limited to 5 gallons per year. (Not that anybody pays any attention to the gallon restrictions)
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  19. #59
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Quote Originally Posted by indypartridge View Post
    Don't know about Michigan, but it would be illegal in Indiana and probably several other states. Removable frames to enable inspection is the law here.
    There's a jail somewhere with a block reserved just for miscreant bee keepers.

  20. #60
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    Default Re: Making a skep

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    You can make beer and wine for personal use without permits, but even that is limited to 5 gallons per year. (Not that anybody pays any attention to the gallon restrictions)
    The annual household limit is 200 gallons - for beer at least. Five or ten gallons would be an average batch size.

    Great thread, OP. Thanks also, BernhardHeuvel, for the great pictures.
    2013, 7 hives, T

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