Bee Skep Instructions

Written by erin ringwald
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Bee skeps, traditionally made of wicker, wood or coiled straw, once were used to keep bees. They had one entrance, and bees were driven out of them for honey collection. Skeps were replaced by modern hives. Today, the bee skep most often is used as a decorative garden accent. Although they still are made of traditional materials, skeps also can be made from mortar, peat moss and straw. Making your own bee skep requires little time and effort, but is much less expensive than purchasing one.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Mold
  • Plastic bag
  • Mortar
  • Peat moss
  • Straw
  • Rubber gloves

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  1. 1

    Place your chosen mould on your work surface, top down. You can use anything that is tapered in shape, such as a large plastic cup, funnel or traffic cone. Cover your chosen mould with a plastic shopping bag so that you can reuse it.

  2. 2

    Prepare the mortar according to package directions. The amount needed depends on the size of the mould you are using. You want a thick consistency for the mortar, similar to that of cookie dough. Generally this works out to be two parts mortar to three parts water. However, you may have to adjust the ratios to find what works best. Combine the ingredients and mix thoroughly.

  3. 3

    Mix in one cup of peat moss and two handfuls of straw for every half bag of mortar you use. This will give your finished skep a more traditional, basket look. If you do not care about the basket look, you can leave the peat moss and straw out completely. Mix until thoroughly combined.

  4. 4

    Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the drying properties of the mortar. Mound the mortar onto your covered mould, pressing it firmly as you go. You want the mortar to be about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick all around. Make sure it fully covers the mould and maintains the conical shape. Smooth the surface of the mortar with your hands.

  5. 5

    Use your hands to build ridges in the mortar; these simulate coiled straw. You want five to six rings. The size of the rings will depend on the size of the skep. Add additional mortar as necessary to define the ridges. The ridges should be in a stair step configuration, thinner at the top and fatter at the bottom of the skep.

  6. 6

    Use your fingers to make a hole at the bottom of the skep on the bottommost ridge. The hole should be as tall as the ridge and approximately 1/2 inch to 1 inch wide, depending on the size of your skep. If you are making a large skep, the hole should be larger. This is the hole the bees would use to enter the skep, if it was a functioning one.

  7. 7

    Rub the exterior of the skep with peat moss to give it a textured look.

  8. 8

    Allow the skep to dry completely for two to three days. Remove the finished skep from your mould and peel the plastic bag away.

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