In 2014, I fell in love with the idea of keeping bees in skeps, old-fashioned traditional hives of woven straw or grass. Michael Thiele was hinting at hosting the first Sun Hive workshop (a type of skep) in the United States, and I knew–come hell or high water–I would be at that class. In the meantime, I read anything and everything I could find about the making of woven hives, and about how bees are kept in them.
We have little information in our country on these hives, but they are still used in backyard and commercial apiaries all over Europe. I collected all the articles in English I could find, and visited many skep websites.
Fast forward to 2016: Michael indeed offered the first Sun Hive class and I was there with 14 other bee lovers. I took my Sun Hive home, filled her with bees, and–with the simple instructions I had–kept on weaving with whatever grasses I could find.
The skeps I wove that year look a bit wonky and uneven, but I learned a great deal as I worked through the long winter hours to create three more skeps. This spring, 2017, I have four woven hives now filled with bees. This will be my “learning year” of actually keeping bees in these lovely hives. I invite you to journey along with me as I bring this old tradition to America.