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Saturday, 6 March 2021

How To Make A Rope Bee Skep

I have always had a love of bee related mythology and bee keeping. For quite some time I have been fascinated with the beautiful straw bee skeps of times past, the precursor to the more modern wooden bee hives of today. 

So I decided to make myself a faux skep for decoration on our farmhouse porch and I love how it turned out. If you get a 'buzz' every time anything bee related crosses your path then you may want to make one of these as decor for your home. 




I found inspiration for my skep in vintage images related to bee keeping like these below.




To make a rope bee skep the same size as mine you will need:



An old standard house bucket or other similar size container that has sloped sides to wrap your rope around.

Approx. 5 metres of sisal rope or more depending on the thickness you use, I chose 20mm rope and found ebay the cheapest. (If you use a thinner rope you will need more of it )

A small amount of 10mm rope - approx 20cm. 

Jute String 

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Here is how I made my rope Bee Skep

1. Invert your bucket on to a table, protect the table as required as hot glue will most likely get on it at some stage.




2. Start wrapping your rope around the bucket starting at the base or if it has a spout like mine, just above the spout, hot glue the top of the rope as you go so the next layer will be glued to the one below, keeping the rope wound firmly against the bucket as you work.




3. Repeat until you get to the top of the bucket. At this stage you have to wing it for the remaining part of the skep, manually adjust each layer of rope inward slightly, glueing as you go, until you have achieved the height and shape that you want. I also removed mine form the bucket before doing the top section while I could easily move it to loosen any glue that had stuck to the bucket. 






4. When you have just a small opening a little larger than your rope width left, make a large loop to form a handle and cut your rope leaving about 10cm extra that you then tuck inside the skep through the hole.



5. Use a good amount of hot glue on the very top to secure the handle in place. I used some jute string wrapped around the handled base in a fugure 8 to cover the glue.


6. Then on the inside of the skep, hot glue the end of the rope handle to the inside to secure it.


7. I then wound some jute string tightly around the skep between the rope coils to give it a decorative touch reminiscent of the sewing together they did of the traditional straw bee skeps. I only glued it at the base and the top.


8. I then created  a small circle of rope from the 1cm rope to the size I wanted, glued the ends together and covered the join with some more jute string, glued in place at the back. I then glued the circle to the skep. 

For the opening I first used hot glue on the inside directly behind where I wanted to cut to ensure the rope wouldn't unravel, and then placed a piece of wood into the skep behind the area I wanted the hole to be and sat in on a trestle. I used a sharp wood chisel & hammer to cut the rope away. In hindsight I think it would be better to cut he hole first, then place the edging circle of rope around the hole. I have also added a piece of fly screen mesh behind the hole glued inside the skep to prevent insects like wasps actually building a  nest in there.





9. I also made a cute little 'B' for Bee tag that I attached to the skep handle - I'll leave that part to your creativity if you decide to do the same. The bee on the tag I made from air dry clay using a mould.



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