My First Skep-Making Class! (…and how to request a class in your area…)

It’s been a year and a half since my Sun Hive workshop, where I first learned how to start weaving straw hives. I love my Sun Hive, but honestly, I love the little skeps more, so that’s where I’ve put my efforts.

I’ve been working on these little hives pretty much in isolation, so to say I’ve been eager to train a few more “skeppers” is an understatement. Since I didn’t know what teaching this process would be like (Could I even do it??), so I enlisted the help of my favorite bee friends to take a “guinea pig” class with me. They were gracious, and allowed me to blunder a bit through the process and learn right along with them…

You can see our success in the photos below! Of course, none of the skeps was completed in the two-day course, but they have all the knowledge and supplies to continue on their own. We decided, though, that weaving together in a group was a wonderful way to catch up on our beekeeping through this year, share new innovations, eat, drink, and participate in general merriment. So we’ll be getting together for weaving dates so we can enjoy each other’s company again and often.

The most challenging prospect of crafting these hives is assembling enough dried grass. We weave very thick (two-inch coils), and it is surprising how fast a pile of straw can vanish before your eyes!

After the hands-down success of this class, I’m ready to go public. If you are interested in having me come to you and teach a class, here are a few of the particulars:

For those who require removable frames: I can teach you how to make a skep that will function like a round Warre’ hive.

  • Grass: You must gather and dry all the grass for the class. Local organic pasture grass works fine. Rye and oats and wheat straw work, too. I’ve also had success with Canary reed grass. Find the grass, and have a cutting day or two with all the folks who want to participate in the skep class. It is wonderful to bring students through the whole process, from gathering and drying the grass, to weaving the hives.
  • Class size: 10-15 students works well.
  • Skep weaving forms: These forms are made for me, custom. They cost $65 each, and I can send you information for ordering them. You can have them shipped to you before the class, and they are yours to keep and use.
  • Class fees: $250 per student for a full two-day workshop. I supply the rest of the weaving tools. If I need to fly to you, then I’d really appreciate a full class so I can make up the airfare. I’ll also need a place to stay and someone to feed me while I’m there. A sofa is fine. Cheerios are great. I’m an easy keeper!

If this sounds like something you would like to arrange, start now planning for next year! I teach in the fall and winter. Summer, I need to be in my bee yard, playing with my skeps.

5 thoughts on “My First Skep-Making Class! (…and how to request a class in your area…)

  1. One small correction. Susan said she “blundered” through her first time teaching. There was not a speck of blundering. She astutely carried us through, hour by hour, and I was impressed by how much she gauged when each of us needed guidance or was ready for the next step. She’s humble and funny and brilliantly creative. I can hardly wait to finish my skep and get started on the next one. Thanks, Susan!

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  2. Ahh, yes, reviving the lost art of skep weaving. A noble endeavor to honor a huge part of mankind’s history of beekeeping. There is evidence of skep like hives since beginning in ancient Egypt. Creating a skep is literally experiencing 1,000 of years mankind’s relationship with the honey bee. I had to teach myself to make my skeps. Trust me, it would have been a blessing to have worked with an experienced “skepper” in the beginning.

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    • Yes, Ernie, the self-taught route is a messy one! Mine are still by no means “perfect.” They are bulky and a bit wonky. Like folk-art!

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