Garden Photo of the Day

A Hudson Valley bee skep

Click to enlarge.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

A couple of weekends ago I went on a whirlwind tour of some Hudson Valley (New York) gardens with a couple of gardening buddies. I’ll be featuring some of the sights we saw this week.

I’ll start slow with a cute little bee skep we spotted in the herb garden at Boscobel in Garrison, New York. Every time I see a bee skep, I want one for my own garden–they’re so cute! But I’ve never actually seen bees take up residence in a skep. Have you? According to Wikipedia (who we should all trust completely, right? Ha!), it’s actually illegal to keep bees in skeps in many countries, including the US. Apparently, in order to harvest the honey the bees produce in a skep, you almost always have to destroy the bees. Not very nice. Most of the skeps you see now are purely for looks. If you want to encourage bees to a skep for the purpose of harvesting honey, search for a skep that has a second vessel on top to make harvesting the honey (which the bees produce in the upper vessel) a little less gruesome. **I have not been able to find one online, sadly. Here’s a bit more info on skeps.

Click to enlarge.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais


Welcome to the Fine Gardening GARDEN PHOTO OF THE DAY blog! Every weekday we post a new photo of a great garden, a spectacular plant, a stunning plant combination, or any number of other subjects. Think of it as your morning jolt of green.

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  1. shibi 07/04/2011

    I read (somewhere other than Wikipedia) that skeps tended to harbor bacteria dangerous to bees, and that is why it is illegal to raise bees in skeps.

  2. user-7006885 07/04/2011

    Bee skeps are a perfect look for a cottage garden. Love them! They aren't difficult to make if you know a bit about basketweaving. I've tried, but mine always come out looking pretty lopsided and inexpertly made. Very wabi-sabi I guess, but I always end up getting rid of my production. Maybe practice makes perfect?

  3. vhdno 07/21/2012

    I have an antique bee skep that I use indoors for decoration. The shop where I bought mine still has some. Rug Chic Home Decor in Mandeville, LA. Mine is woven from vines and has an old piece of electrical wire for a handle.

  4. BUTTSBEES 05/21/2013

    The skeps are illegal in the aforementioned because the State Apiculturalist is unable to inspect each comb for signs of Foul-brood. No bacteria affects the hive, just pesticides.
    You never would have to destroy any bees in the process of removing come from a skep. Just gently pry or cut the outside combs, they have the honey, away from the skep. Leave the center combs alone as they have the brood nest with the baby bees. Check out this Garden Hive idea,

  5. user-7007450 03/23/2015

    Skeps are legal in many states. Do your own real research like calling your states local Dept of AG and find out the laws for YOUR state.

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