In July 2018 I facilitated my first bee skep workshop for The Beekeepers Club in Melbourne. It was run over a weekend and participants worked very hard to create impressive work. Everyone was new to basketry techniques but managed to create strong skeps by controlling fibres that are quite hard on the hands. I was delighted by the ambition, perseverance and determination of the beekeepers who wanted the skeps for a myriad of reasons. Some of the participants will use their bee skep to catch swarms before transferring the bees into their wood box hives. Others will display their skeps and use them as conversation starters about the history of beekeeping. And of course there is always someone innovative who gets inspired to do something unique…like line their skep with felt, create a custom made entrance and use it as a cat bed…lets hope the cat likes it!!
Participants stripping leaves off rye straw to prepare for making skeps. This agricultural stubble is a recycled byproduct of a grain crop collected from a farmers field in the Central Highlands of Victoria.
During the first day of the workshop participants grappled with the coiling technique.
Beekeepers with their skeps.
The next day Janneke sent a picture of her finished skep!
After a difficult year in 2020, when most workshops were cancelled due to Covid 19, I managed to run a Bee Skep Workshop for a small group at the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre in January 2021. One of the participants bought along 2 skeps that he had purchased in the UK a few days a go for us to admire.
Participants making bee skeps at the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre in January 2021.
Participants and their bee skeps after 2 days of weaving, at the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre in January 2021. Note the time consuming nature of this work, as the skeps were not finished in the 2 day workshop.