Tuesday 1 September 2015

Medieval Beehives - Skeps

A Skep is described as "an inverted basket made of wicker or coiled straw used in beekeeping for housing bees".
Placed against the barn.
"Have you tried the honey liquor we call mead?"

Whilst hunting the web I came across a few different types of beehives shown in contemporary sources, but mainly the woven skep type.
Georgics - KB 76 E 21 II, fol. 42v (c. 1450-1475) This Picture gave me the idea for the Stand, but there´s loads of others showing the Hives placed on top of table like structures (pic below) or in Special niches (Bee Boles) in walls.
Taccuino Sanitatis (14th Cent)
A 15th century Picture showing not only Skeps but also "modern" looking box like hives. Manuscrit enluminé par le Maître des Vitae Imperatorum (1410 )

I could have gone for a box type structure (as shown in the last Picture)..but why make life easy?
"How too"
First off the Basic structure. A bit of clay shaped as a Skep but  a bit smaller than the intended finished size.

Next the material for the covering. I tried a few different materials.
Thick sowing  thread but it ended up with no visible form, the rope effect wasn´t obvious.
Strands of copperwire twisted into ropes but they sprang off.

Then, on the verge of giving up...I came up with using  Baling twine (the sort made from Sisal).  3-4 strands of twine, twisted into a rope and then smeared with PVA to hold it in shape.
I tied a knot in one end of the 3-4 strands, attached that into a slit in a sheet of Card, twisted it into a rope, then tied another knot, attaching that to another slit on the other side of the sheet of Card. Then, using an old paint brush I painted thinned down PVA over the "ropes"
When both the forms and the "ropes" were dry I smeared the form with PVA..let it go a bit tacky, then starting at the bottom wound the "rope" around the form, and using a toothpick kept pressing the "rope" tightly on top of the previous layer .
When the covering was complete, using the toothpick I formed a hole between the "rope"
Using Baling twine has an Advantage...it doesn´t Need painting to look realistic.

The stand is made from Card...no Explanation rquired.