Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beehives, Bee Skeps in Gardens and Home Decorating

Hot here in Gridley.  Our poor relatives that have been here to visit from the Bay Area.  Their weather has been from 55 degrees - 65 degrees.  This last week the coolest day was 100 degrees, today was 106 degrees.  They were suffering.
One of my CSA members owns a store downtown Oroville, called Mary Lake Thompson.  Her front window display reminded me of the importance bees play in all our lives, in our plant world but interestingly, also in our decorating world.Shelling peas- One of my favorite things
Since ancient times, bees have been kept for their honey. Honey was originally collected from the bees’ nest in hollow trees. To make collecting the honey much easier artificial nests for the honey bees to live in were made. Before wooden hives came into use, European and British beekeepers used inverted straw or wicker baskets called a “skep”. Skeps are baskets placed open end down with a small hole at the bottom for the bees to enter. They are the earliest and most simple form of the bee hive. The skeps were weatherproofed with a thatch or mixture similar to that used on house walls. It is rare to find an original old woven bee skep because most were destroyed when the honey was removed. Here are some photos of an antique bee hive and some photos of antique bee skeps.  I have had a skep in my floral gardens for years but they do not last but only a few years.  For a while, you could not find any at nurserys or decorating stores, but recently they are coming back for gardeners and decorators.
This antique beekhive is from France and is from the 1800s.  I want Frank to make me this for my garden.  Wouldn't kids love it as a dollhouse??? Hard to imagine it is over 200 years old and in such good condition.  Would have looked beautiful in a French country garden, a cute house just for the bees.

Skeps hanging from a ceiling to purchase.

These are antique bee hives using various shapes and found objects.

They are fun to decorate with also. Here are some pictures of a few ideas on how to use skeps in your home.   Here is one used as a lamp shade-
 Or to show interest and texture with a sisal rug.
The front window display is at Mary Lake Thompson store that has so many cute items all using the bee hive/skep theme. I want them all!!

She even has bee napkins, bee coasters, and these are bee plates.  They look just like paper plates, but are actually ceramic that can be put into dishwasher.  Check her adorable store out on Montgomery St in oldtown Oroville.  It is packed with the cutest items.

It seems that anything to do with old farms or outside farming implements can be re-purposed to be used inside as decorations. These old farm tractor seats look like art work.
tractor seat art Stay cool. Until next time, from Windmill Farm
Bee skep in zinnias, must get for the herb garden.


David Heilman said...

Hello, I am a collector of beekeeping history and looked at buying this hive as it is very unique. This french house bee hive is probably from the early 1900's as the internal parts which i have seen in pictures would have dated from that time. It is a neat pc, but way too expensive for my budget. I actually have a small museum at the Ohio State University/OARDC In Wooster, OH. It is not much and don't have a lot of time to put into it. a good place to look for odd hives to reproduce is in the US Patent Office. DAVE

Windmill Farm said...

Dave: your collection sounds interesting and wonderful that you are sharing it with others in the museum. I know that most people used these old skeps or bee hives so not that many are left to be found. Thanks for tip about the US Patent Office and also thanks for stopping by my blog.