Monday, 23 April 2012

Skep Making Course

This page is a photo record of the Skep Making Course run by Chris park at Acorn Education that Ali, Jo and I attended yesterday.

This was an absolutely brilliant day out. Not only did we learn how to make skeps and bring away our own part completed ones, but we absorbed the fantastic atmosphere generated by Chris Park working in his round-house, seeing his apiary and savouring the delights of his Westmill Farm glade. We were also lucky to met some folk from the Natural Beekeeping Trust in Sussex who were also attending yesterday.

If I can find a free date (we have such a busy schedule this spring!) I will be sending an email to members to see if there is sufficient interest to invite Chris to come to Yatton to deliver this course for YABeeP locally. I have to say, however, that holding it here will mean not seeing his active skeps and sacrificing the fantastic atmosphere of his location, training round-house and open fire cooked food.

Edited 26 April to add: I've just heard from Chris that the next skep course he is running there is Sunday 17th June - Father's Day. Maybe an alternative option is for us to organise a YABeeP outing there for the day for those interested?

23 April 2012

Click any photo to enlarge

Chris Park at the teaching apiary

2 occupied skep hives

Twin basket hive showing
reed rain cover

Entrance to single basket hive
note how bees have propolised
entrance to reduce it
video of bees flying from skep
(The audible 'flight line' warning was from someone presumably not used to low interference bees)

Two basket skep - brood basket + super
Entrance to 2 basket skep
Jo helps Chris replace the rain hat
Topp of base unit of 2 basket skep with super removed.
This brood base was started with clay domed cap (see remains of
rim still showing) but has since had a 'super' basket added
Showing built comb
Most comb oriented North/South but
 the bees built two combs the 'warm' way
 to cover the entrance - top of photo
The class room outside....
....but warm and cosy inside; all mod con's.
Bear guards the entrance - Ali negotiates entry 
Chris showing his wares

Lunch is prepared in our midst as we weave.
The endless supply of nettle and mint tea was also much appreciated
Man of many weapons!
Jo getting ready for a good old fashioned flaying!
That looks like hard work
Ali, thinking ahead to Ladies Day at Royal Ascot

The Natural Beekeeping Trust gang
CLICK HERE to pre-book a place on the 2012 Natural Beekeeping Conference 
which they are hosting

Bo - our chef, tea maker and Chris's assistant

Now how do I light this catherine wheel?  :-(
...and here's one I made earlier.  :-)
Chris's ingenious skep stand with varroa screen
Finished skep with 'spleets' a.k.a. 'spales' to support the comb

Super/nadir skep with flat top and top 4" entrance to allow bees to move from basket to basket
Skep with propolised interior
The YABeeP mob
around the site
Wending our way home after a glorious day...
Edited 3/5/12 to add this brilliant video from the Natural Beekeeping Trust showing another great use of skep making skills to build a sun (aka hanging basket) hive. If you are impatient skip ahead to 2:30 minutes to see the hive but I'd recommend watching all 4:22 mins.

Added 6/5/12: And here's a photo of Emma and Dave's skep and skep house made following an earlier course with Chris Park. Doesn't it look good? Now for some bees.
Emma & Dave's skepary

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