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vermin06
12-20-2015, 06:46 PM
I've been researching skep keeping, and ordered a book via Amazon (oh, packages, how you test my patience!). In the meantime, I tried finding something on here, and I'm mildly surprised I've not found anything. I was wondering if any of you had any experience with skep keeping? I'd imagine it's pretty uncommon, especially here in the US. I'm pondering having skeps as a bit of a research project, and for the fun of it. I think it'd be a pretty interesting undertaking.

enjambres
12-20-2015, 08:23 PM
My understanding is that skeps, having no removable combs may not be legal in some, or all, states.

But they are handsome.

Look here for links (or Google) to see info about Heath beekeeping; especially a series of YouTubes (they have titles in German but are narrated in in English).

Enj

sqkcrk
12-20-2015, 08:37 PM
I had one years experience with keeping bees in a skep. Soon after moving from Williamsburg, VA to near Wooster, OH to attend a 2 year College Course in Commercial Beekeeping I collected a swarm into a skep that I had brought with me from my previous job at Colonial Williamsburg.

Bees built comb in the skep. I set it up on a stand and made a grass "mop" to put on top of it to shed the rain. It wasn't a particularly big skep, so it swarmed a couple times. And then, while weak, it got robbed out.

It was fun to play with. The new combs were pliable enough to move back and forth some. But as was mention by enjambres, skeps are illegal because they don't have removable combs. Though, if you will look at some of the old books, you will find that there are ways of removing and reinstalling the combs if you have the right tools and have built a post with cross pieces to support the combs.

vermin06
12-20-2015, 08:53 PM
I watched that series and I loved it! What a beautiful living that must have been. Crazy that they'd be illegal. I can see a few advantages for them in a big apiary along langstroth hives.

vermin06
12-20-2015, 08:56 PM
I hope to find more historical information on bee keeping techniques, but I'm pretty sad to hear skeps are illegal. Home of the free my foot!

sqkcrk
12-20-2015, 08:57 PM
No, actually it isn't crazy that they are illegal. All hives which don't have removable/inspectable combs are illegal for just that reason. If you can't inspect the brood combs you won't know when your hives have AFB and EFB in them. We already dealt with that earlier in the 20th century.

sqkcrk
12-20-2015, 08:59 PM
Home of the free my foot!

As long as you are willing to pay the price, you are free to keep bees in skeps.

If you don't like the Laws in this Country, change them or leave.

Slow Drone
12-20-2015, 09:02 PM
The only state I know where skeps are legal is in Michigan.

vermin06
12-20-2015, 09:09 PM
How strange. I should look into why that is and what the penalty would be for keeping skepped bees.

Tenbears
12-20-2015, 09:55 PM
The state bee inspector has the right inspect hives, and in situations where AFB American foul brood, or EFB European foul brood the inspector can prescribe a treatment. If treatment is not followed he may have the right to burn the infected hives. If one make themselves too much of a pain in his back side, he just may burn every hive in the apiary! A hive in which the comb cannot be removed for proper inspection would obviously be in jeopardy of containing disease undetected. thus the reason the laws were made. To protect beekeeping at large. Michigan has no apiary registration, and no bee inspectors.

sqkcrk
12-21-2015, 05:45 AM
I can see a few advantages for them in a big apiary along langstroth hives.

Such as?

sqkcrk
12-21-2015, 05:47 AM
I should look into why that is ...

I thought that was already explained.

rwlaw
12-21-2015, 05:55 AM
Ya back in 2007, when I was book reading stage for getting into bk'n, I dropped a few hours in the wasted time bucket to find out how to and if I needed to get my hives registered. At one time there were inspectors and I got ahold of a retired one, that's when I found out that Michigan is a knuckle dragger in the bee industry.
I've watched the utube series of German skep keepers from the fifties, watching them takes all the luster out of that aspect.

FlowerPlanter
12-21-2015, 06:24 AM
Here's an interesting old video;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2IjNBbLESY&list=PLYXejt7IvbsPfyUS0CehTWrMo9oGKnXFO

rwlaw
12-21-2015, 06:35 AM
That's the series flowerplanter. Love their smoker, gots to get in close and personal to use it.

Michael Bush
12-21-2015, 07:31 AM
>How strange. I should look into why that is and what the penalty would be for keeping skepped bees.

In most states they just burn your skeps...

beeware10
12-21-2015, 07:46 AM
I bought a skep about 18 in high made in Holland. It was bought for show and sets on top of a book case. that's the only practical place for them.

Joe Hillmann
12-21-2015, 08:23 AM
Here are the laws specific to beekeeping in Oregon.

https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/bills_laws/lawsstatutes/2013ors602.html

It looks like in 1993 they went through and removed most of the laws. I just gave it a quick look and didn't see any mention of a requirement for movable comb. It may be worth your time to look up the pre 1993 laws that they removed so you have an idea of what they changed.

And according to the last sentence breaking any of those laws is a class b misdemeanor. Which in Oregon is a maximum of 6 months in jail and or a maximum of $2500 fine.

mcon672
12-21-2015, 12:49 PM
There's a kid on you tube that does science videos but also some beekeeping vids. One of his is how to build a skep. I've been wanting to make one, just for show, looks really easy. It's called Cody's Lab. His name is cody reeder. Check it out.

vermin06
12-21-2015, 07:50 PM
Such as?

Such as being able to house and grow a swarm cheaply or for free (unless you're lucky/skilled/resourceful enough to get boxes for free, skeps are another option for us less-than-financially well off), having a smaller hive means it's easier to monitor in a shorter period of time, though I suppose a trade off could be the hive is faster to succumb to an outbreak. Trades offs. What can you do? There's also the historical aspect that appeals to me, but that's obviously a rather biased stance on that.

And just because someone assumes the laws were put in place (assuming they are there, but I couldn't find any about skeps) for a certain reason doesn't mean that's why those laws were actually made. When I watched how the old keepers monitored their skep hives (on the Heather documentary), they were able to look in and see everything just fine. They could move the combs over a bit to peek between them, and even see well enough to pull out drone brood that happened to be stuck up near the top of the skep. I don't see how not having removable combs inherently allows proper inspection of a hive. I can see how it'd make it easier, certainly, but not altogether undo able. Then again, I've not myself played in any skeps, I'm just going on what I saw someone else doing.

vermin06
12-21-2015, 07:51 PM
"I've watched the utube series of German skep keepers from the fifties, watching them takes all the luster out of that aspect."

What do you mean takes all the luster out of that aspect?

vermin06
12-21-2015, 07:59 PM
>In most states they just burn your skeps...

Eesh, I hope not. I tried looking online for any laws for here in Oregon, and found nothing. I'm checking Joe's link to see if I can at least find a place to go for more information with a few phone calls as the link seems to deal with registration, penalties, and power or eradication. I'd love to try skep keeping on the side as a bit of a small personal research project for myself, but I'd hate to do it illegally, or have it be taken away from me.

sqkcrk
12-21-2015, 08:29 PM
Such as being able to house and grow a swarm cheaply or for free (unless you're lucky/skilled/resourceful enough to get boxes for free, skeps are another option for us less-than-financially well off), having a smaller hive means it's easier to monitor in a shorter period of time, though I suppose a trade off could be the hive is faster to succumb to an outbreak. Trades offs. What can you do? There's also the historical aspect that appeals to me, but that's obviously a rather biased stance on that.

And just because someone assumes the laws were put in place (assuming they are there, but I couldn't find any about skeps) for a certain reason doesn't mean that's why those laws were actually made. When I watched how the old keepers monitored their skep hives (on the Heather documentary), they were able to look in and see everything just fine. They could move the combs over a bit to peek between them, and even see well enough to pull out drone brood that happened to be stuck up near the top of the skep. I don't see how not having removable combs inherently allows proper inspection of a hive. I can see how it'd make it easier, certainly, but not altogether undo able. Then again, I've not myself played in any skeps, I'm just going on what I saw someone else doing.

Please don't take this as me being mean, but you don't have enough experience as a beekeeper to make some of the statements you are making. If you are not financially able to afford boxes to keep bees in then, well, maybe ... Since you won't take my word for why Apiary Laws pertaining to removable combs came into existence I don't know what to say.

You won't find the word skep in many of the State's Apiary Laws. What you will find are the words "removable combs" and "inspectable combs". You have to be able to look at brood combs in a certain way in order to see whether AFB is present or not.

Thirtyfive years ago, when I worked at Colonial Williamsburg, knowing what the Apiary Laws of the State of Virginia were pertaining to hives which didn't have removable combs, we asked the State Apiculturist about an exemption and were denied the exemption, because the combs could not be examined to see whether AFB was present in the brood combs or not. You see, vermin06, the way one examines brood combs for AFB is one holds the combs in such a way that the Sun shines over your shoulder into the open brood cells at such an angle that AFB scale can be seen. You cannot see it from any other angle. No matter how far you bend combs in a skep you cannot see what one needs to see in order to rule out the presence of AFB.

Another thing, brood should not be found near the top of a skep. Or, during most of the year, near the top of any hive. There should be honey near the top, pollen below that, and brood below that. Except during the late Winter or early Spring because the colony has eaten the stores that were above them and the queen can now lay in comb that otherwise would have had honey in it.

You have much to learn. In my opinion you would do yourself and others great benefit if you learned how to keep bees before doing something exotic like keeping them in a skep.

sqkcrk
12-21-2015, 08:31 PM
>In most states they just burn your skeps...

Eesh, I hope not. I tried looking online for any laws for here in Oregon, and found nothing. I'm checking Joe's link to see if I can at least find a place to go for more information with a few phone calls as the link seems to deal with registration, penalties, and power or eradication. I'd love to try skep keeping on the side as a bit of a small personal research project for myself, but I'd hate to do it illegally, or have it be taken away from me.

Call your State Apiculturist and speak to them. They will best answer your questions. Anyone else is speculating.

Vance G
12-24-2015, 12:18 PM
I seriously doubt the space time continuum would be disrupted if you made and kept a colony in a skep. I can think of two reeds that would lend themselves to be rolled and tied into wrist size ropes. One could continue to add reeds as the rope got longer or you could join the six feet tall bundles the reeds would make with a big sailors needle or one use to sew up wool sacks pulling a Dacron fishing line or monofilament if you protect the line from the sun. Be sure to make the top taper fast to I would say 16" round inside diameter. Use a five gallon bucket for a form seems to me would work. I would make the interior of the top flat and arrange to anchor some wooden slats for the bees to attach comb to. Dipping them in wax and attaching some starter combs would be ideal. If you have watched the heather skep beekeeping videos you could have extrapolated the details easily. I personally do not want to coat mine with fresh cow manure even though I know of great supplies close at hand! One could make hypertufa easily enough and recipes abound on the net if you want that Germanic flavor.

There are sound reasons for limiting the usage of non moveable combs but the people who would go to the trouble of making a skep are far less dangerous than the swarms of those operating treatment free without the knowledge to pull it off. The comb police do not go looking for Warre keepers either though that discipline is just as illegal. We are so well supplied with laws that we all are breaking one anyway so keep your mouth shut and learn what AFB smells like. That is all the info one really needs anyway. Merry Christmas.[/I]
I've been researching skep keeping, and ordered a book via Amazon (oh, packages, how you test my patience!). In the meantime, I tried finding something on here, and I'm mildly surprised I've not found anything. I was wondering if any of you had any experience with skep keeping? I'd imagine it's pretty uncommon, especially here in the US. I'm pondering having skeps as a bit of a research project, and for the fun of it. I think it'd be a pretty interesting undertaking.

vermin06
12-25-2015, 12:52 PM
I'd like to have a skep or three after a couple years of working with the regular Langstroth, as that's the equipment that I have. It's also what's required during my tutelage through the local university here to have langstroth hives. Thanks, and a Merry Christmas to you, too.

naturebee
12-26-2015, 08:52 AM
I've been researching skep keeping, and ordered a book via Amazon (oh, packages, how you test my patience!). In the meantime, I tried finding something on here, and I'm mildly surprised I've not found anything. I was wondering if any of you had any experience with skep keeping? I'd imagine it's pretty uncommon, especially here in the US. I'm pondering having skeps as a bit of a research project, and for the fun of it. I think it'd be a pretty interesting undertaking.

vermin06,
Let's start with the legality of keeping bees in skeps. I myself do not worry about such things. Unless you have a real 'jerk' as a bee inspector or neighboring beekeeper, - nobody is going to give a hoot about keeping a one or two colonies in skeps for research purposes. If the occasion does arise, simply do a cutout and place them out into a frame hive. Most beekeepers have broken that law the day they sat a bee tree portion in their yard or have bees swarm into empty hive boxes. I have toured several 'display apiaries' located at Universities over the years, -some of these having bees in log hives and box hives without movable frames, so you may be able to get exemptions for research purposes.

History has shown that beekeepers like to blame feral colonies and the non movable frame hives for their own problems, -somehow knowing the beekeeper 3 miles down the road is responsible for their own disease problems. It's a law that for the most part good, but sometimes also fueled by paranoia, -as history shows with the feral colony eradication programs of the early 20th century which failed in controlling disease.

The best place to start is making your own skeps, because those purchased are often inadequate in size and meant for display. A practical skep for bees should probably be 18 to 20 inches tall and about 16 inches at the base, -and according to friends in the UK who practice skep beekeeping, -should support your own weight, being able to stand on the skep without damage.

The first step is to search craigslist for organic a 'long rye' or 'long wheat' supplier. Some friends in the UK are teaching me the art of skep making, unfortunately I have promised to keep confidential their names due to privacy and time concerns. Martin Buckle from the UK is probably the foremost expert on skep making, he has some online instruction on skep making you can follow.

Here are a few sources:

Skep Books

Showler, Karl (1990) Some hints on the art and mystery of skep making

Alston, F. (1987) Skeps, their History, Making and Use.


Skep Making Online

How to Make Your Own Skep - Martin Buckle
http://www.martinatnewton.com/page6.htm

How to Build a Skep - Modern Farmer
http://modernfarmer.com/2013/05/how-to-build-a-bee-skep/

Skep Making
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=nl&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.imkervereniginghaaksbergen.nl%2 Findex.php%2Fvereniging%2Fcursus%2Fkorfvlechtcursu s&prev=search


Skep Online
Brief Beekeeping in Image and Word.
https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Flibrary.wur.nl%2Fojs%2Findex.php%2F bijenhouden%2Farticle%2Fview%2F5268%2F4771&edit-text&act=url


Heathland Beekeeping 1 Spring Work in a Heather Skep Apiary xvid

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2IjNBbLESY&list=PLYXejt7IvbsPfyUS0CehTWrMo9oGKnXFO

sqkcrk
12-26-2015, 12:43 PM
I am not aware of the feral colony eradication program you sited. " -as history shows with the feral colony eradication programs of the early 20th century which failed in controlling disease. " Can you show me a link or tell me where or how you learned of this?

Phoebee
12-26-2015, 02:07 PM
It is interesting that sqkcrk mentions that he used to work in Colonial Williamsburg and that keeping bees in skeps is illegal. In fact, skeps are sold in Colonial Williamsburg, but only as decorations. You're told flat-out that they are illegal for keeping bees.

And because skeps are a piece of history, and Williamsburg is living history, you get the back story. Traditionally, the way to harvest honey from a skep is to kill the bees by hitting them with sulfur smoke. That's all about THAT practice I care to know!

deknow
12-26-2015, 03:32 PM
If that is the backstory you got in Williamsburg re: skeps being illegal, then you got a good tourist story, not the facts. The spread of AFB and the need to inspect comb is the real story, but too complex to expect it to be known/understood by layfolk.

Phoebee
12-26-2015, 03:58 PM
If that is the backstory you got in Williamsburg re: skeps being illegal, then you got a good tourist story, not the facts. The spread of AFB and the need to inspect comb is the real story, but too complex to expect it to be known/understood by layfolk.

We actually got both stories. I can't remember which we got from their beekeeper (tending a Langstroth hive) and which from the Master Gardener. But I seem to remember standing by the Langstroth hive with the beekeeper explaining how honey was harvested from skeps. This seems to be supported by a Wikipedia article, "Beehive."

Skeps have two disadvantages; beekeepers cannot inspect the comb for diseases and pests, and honey removal is not easy – often resulting in the destruction of the entire colony. To get the honey beekeepers either drove the bees out of the skep or, by the use of a bottom extension called an eke or a top extension called a cap, sought to create comb with just honey in it. Quite often the bees were just killed, sometimes using lighted sulfur, to allow the honeycomb to be removed. Skeps could also be squeezed in a vise to extract the honey. As of 1998, most US states prohibited the use of skeps because they can not be inspected for disease and parasites.[11]

The legal reason of not being able to inspect is quite valid. But destructive honey harvest, with harm or death caused to the bees, is contrary to modern beekeeping sentiment.

sqkcrk
12-26-2015, 04:54 PM
There is a beekeeper at CW?

Contrary to modern beekeeping sentiment perhaps, but not current popular practice among some factions. Those who prefer crush and strain over extracting.

Phoebee
12-26-2015, 05:46 PM
There are a few conventional hives scattered around town, much to the delight of the gardeners. They're not a tour, but we did manage to buttonhole a beekeeper.

sqkcrk
12-26-2015, 05:51 PM
In Williamsburg? In the Historical Area? Cool. I wonder what happened to our hive from Diderot's Encyclopedia. Probably in some store room somewhere.

Fusion_power
12-26-2015, 09:12 PM
1. Practical beekeeping in skeps is limited to about 200 year round colonies per beekeeper. Using Langstroth equipment, a single beekeeper can care for about 2000 colonies.

2. Skep beekeeping is inherently destructive with bees driven off the comb and brood killed in order to harvest the honey.

3. Skep based beekeeping rarely produces more than 30 pounds of harvestable honey per colony. A modern hive properly managed can easily double or quadruple this amount.

4. Skep beekeeping is inherently based on swarming for increase. This limits honey production potential from areas with large spring nectar flows as compared to areas with large fall flows. I don't know about others, but my personal time is better used managing the bees to prevent swarms and collect spring honey!

In favor of skeps, queens are always young and healthy, honey is produced in new comb, and equipment costs are minimal.

My personal preference would be to use a Japanese Garden Hive if I wanted to go the low cost route of producing comb honey. It is far more adaptable than a skep.

P.S. the skep videos were made in 1978 making them 37 years old. Beekeeping has changed dramatically since tracheal and varroa mites hit.

sqkcrk
12-27-2015, 04:57 AM
"a single beekeeper can care for about 2000 colonies. " I'd like to meet that guy. And his spouse.

naturebee
12-27-2015, 11:19 AM
I am not aware of the feral colony eradication program you sited. " -as history shows with the feral colony eradication programs of the early 20th century which failed in controlling disease. " Can you show me a link or tell me where or how you learned of this?

sqkcrk,
Here is a recommendation by Michigan State University to "attend" to feral bees.
and another from The Western Honey Bee.
I will post my source for the feral colony eradication programs, if I run across it again. This is something I read about some time ago; during the early 1910's and 1920's foulbrood legislation and panic was commonplace,,, I will post it to this thread if I manage to relocate.

1920 - Michigan State University. Agricultural Experiment

"Bee-trees in the woods should be promptly attended to by the owner as the occupants of the tree frequently become infected with foul-brood, are killed out during the winter and then remain a source of infection for all bees within flying distance."

https://books.google.com/books?id=nddJAAAAYAAJ&dq=spread%20disease%20beetrees%20foulbrood&pg=RA1-PA145#v=onepage&q=%22Bee-trees%20in%20the%20woods%20should%20be%20promptly% 20attended%20to%20by%20the%20owner%20as%20the%20oc cupants%20of%20hte%20tree%20frequently%20become%20 infected%20with%20foul-brood%22&f=false


1921 - The Western Honey Bee

"Section 4. It shall likewise be the duty-of the county bee inspector to inspect all colonies of wild bees reported to him as being infected with any foul brood disease, and to destroy any infected wild bees found by him"

https://books.google.com/books?id=l8FJAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA141&dq=%22It+shall+likewise+be+the+duty-of+the+county+bee+inspector+to+inspect+all+colonie s+of+wild+bees+reported+to+him+as+being+infected+w ith+any+foul+brood+disease,+and+to+destroy+any+inf ected+wild+bees+found+by+him%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj3-sDHyfzJAhVGVyYKHa32AWUQ6AEIHzAA#v=onepage&q=%22It%20shall%20likewise%20be%20the%20duty-of%20the%20county%20bee%20inspector%20to%20inspect %20all%20colonies%20of%20wild%20bees%20reported%20 to%20him%20as%20being%20infected%20with%20any%20fo ul%20brood%20disease%2C%20and%20to%20destroy%20any %20infected%20wild%20bees%20found%20by%20him%22&f=false

tech.35058
12-27-2015, 01:45 PM
Yikes, I guess if each county had their own "bee guy" that might not be so bad, but Alabama only went from one guy for the whole state to one top guy & two "underling guys" a couple of years ago. And these guys are also tasked with inspecting ash trees or something & who knows what else. find & inspect every wild colony in the county? Yeah, good luck with that.
I watched the entire series, & I have absolutely no desire to work that hard.
Top bar hives maybe, much cheaper ( in time requirement).
I would comment that they did not "(use sulpher to kill all the bees)", ( i know, I added the word "all") but first shook all the bees out that they could, & tried to find the queens.
I guess this was a great improvement over cutting down the bee tree & destroying the colony for one harvest of honey.
The vid was good, I placed it in the 1980's but may have been wrong. but frame hives looks more efficient. the Sam Comfort website & WAM website makes me _think_ about top bar hives, but if keeping bees in skeps was my only option, I just don't have time. ... CE