Gaining Some Per-skep-tive

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August 13, 2019 by tessfrydman

Beekeeping in early American history conjures up an image of a bee skep – a domed basketry beehive.  In use for around 2,000 years, skeps came to America with the first bee importations in the mid-17th century.  By the turn of the 18th century most kitchen gardens contained skeps in order for households to source honey and beeswax – used to flavor food, brew mead, waterproof leather, and make candles, among other applications. The collections at the Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm contain a bee skep dating to the beginning of the 19th century.  It will be on view in the house throughout September.

Despite the historical abundance of bee skeps, most states now prohibit their use. This is largely bee-cause the process of removing honey from a skep frequently results in the death of many bees. The colonial procedure involved killing most of the colony by burning Sulphur beneath the skep to make it possible to harvest the honey and cut out the beeswax. Newer hives have much improved, less harmful procedures for honey extraction.

Come watch a live honey extraction at the 10th Annual Honey Festival taking place on September 6th, 7th and 8th, 2019!

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