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bee skeps

Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:50 pm
by FionaDowson
Does anyone know of references to wicker bee skeps before 650?

Bit specific but I've just started re-enacting at West Stowe which has specific dates - 430 to 650. Is this too early for straw bee skeps?

I'm aiming to learn to make straw skeps - found a reference on the net of a chap who runs workshops in London. He made the skeps for the 2009 Robin Hood film.

Do we know if mead refers to specifically honey wine or could it be any fruit wine? If we're lucky to get 40lb of honey from a standard British national in a year how would people in the dark ages have sourced that much honey?

Re: bee skeps

Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 8:05 pm
by sally
there is a book on the archaeology of beekeeping which you may find useful, by Eva Crane. Its one to order on interlibrary loan though as I don't think you'll find it cheaply easily otherwise

Re: bee skeps

Posted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:17 am
by Brother Ranulf
Mead seems always to have been a fermented honey brew - for example Sanskrit madhu means a sweet drink made with honey, although it has sometimes been made with added spices and fruits.

The Bosworth-Toller Dictionary gives mæd, medu, medudrenc, meodu, werod and beónbroþ as meaning mead; the word béor means any strong drink (including mead). Beónbroþ is particularly enlightening as it literally means "brew of the bee", so the association with honey is strongly confirmed (this is one of those typically poetic Old English descriptive words).

Re: bee skeps

Posted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:31 pm
by Brother Ranulf
Regarding quantities of honey being produced, Bee Wilson in her book "The Hive" (ISBN-13: 978-0719565984, published by John Murray in 2005) suggests that by the 1100s people in England were eating 2 kilos of honey each per year; the population was perhaps 2.5 million in 1100.

In one small Kent convent the nuns were producing so much honey each year that they were able to donate the considerable surplus to the Prior of Rochester as a form of rent. The implication is that bees were extremely numerous and honey production was on a truly huge scale.

Not all bees were kept in skeps; in many monasteries and probably in aristocratic contexts beehive cells were built into boundary walls.

Re: bee skeps

Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:43 pm
by FionaDowson
Thanks for that

There are skep making courses running at Weald and Downland (of Tudor Monastery Farm fame)

Had a look at my national hive yesterday - there's something like half a dozen frames of honey in the super (sigh). Severe lack of clover in central Norwich methinks!!! I have a cunning plan to guerilla garden crocuses and snowdrops on the verges, just for my girls springtime feast.

Having seen Jimmy of Jimmy's Farm honey hunting it made me realise this would be a popular male pursuit - you get to go away from home, light fires, climb trees and it's really dangerous. Can I come too Dad? Please. Can I?????

Skeps do look fun and I could probably put one of the bathroom roof without worrying about it coming through the ceiling

Re: bee skeps

Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 7:43 am
by Wessex
Does anyone sell saxon style Skeps

Tony

Re: bee skeps

Posted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 11:19 am
by John Waller
Wessex wrote:Does anyone sell saxon style Skeps

Tony


Look on ebay. Several types on there.

Re: bee skeps

Posted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:25 am
by Wessex
Cheers John.

Tony

Re: bee skeps

Posted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:19 pm
by FionaDowson
It's possible to make your own if you can locate old variety long wheat straw used by thatchers. Info (inevitably) on you tube. I used a crochet hook and the top of a cut down lemonade bottle instead of a cow horn. I also used jute twine rather than willow

Beowulf means honey hunter!