The story as I see it.
I had gathered the straw - hand scythed from 'Wilde Oats' - Somehow I thought that strangely appropriate. In 3 large armfuls I took them home. I had cleverly purchased a Ute for this instance, which had also had many previous uses, but that was one of those 'moments' that make ute owning what it should be.
The straw dried in many hanging bundles, under my crappy green 'outdoor area.' I had made sure the bundles where about (my) largish wrist size, and then tided them up with other pieces of the straw, in mini hay bales before they hung.
This amount of work had me thinking about 'period' farming and the jobs around farms. How labour intensive some must be, how slow and easy other are, how everything runs in seasons, and that life must have passed consistently, but slowly.
The straw then dried for a bit - I left it about a month - in December. I got heyfever that month.
Having hung it, I decided on the basic shape of the skep. I decided to attempt to cover one of my existing supers (a modern day 'beebox', with removable frames), so that I could still have the bees inside of it, legally - removable combs.
Carefully winding and sewing together a basket. I took a strange delight in working with my hands - at what is essentially needle point - of which my appreciation deepened - and even though my sneezing hurt, I forged through and created a fairly large coil, wound into a spiral. Yay! It was big, ugly, but I had Made it. I had a dinner mat.
The mat thought kept me amused enough to start the sides and walls.
I had decided to use regular cottony type string, as thread, this I assumed, would provide the strength I needed in the stitching and not rot - at least before the straw did anyway. This was all also because, frankly blackberry thread sounded like taking it all too far... I was already annoying friends with beeskep talk.
The actual construction time of the skep had, of course, taken quiet some time. I had started late summer. There was still three sessions before I had to worry about the bees swarming and having to house a new colony. - Which isn't 'new ' - the old queen had scarpered, taking only half Her Girls - as it were, when the worker bee is female.
Come September again I had prepared the skep. It wasn't as big as I wanted, nor was it finished. I know at the time I thought to this to be a fatal flaw - the product should have been finished with another example of production. i Changed my plan. I promised myself to finish the existing skep and produce a smaller thornberrie thread version - and clay. But it would do.
I missed a swarm.
Although I had planned the season failed to provide me at the right time/place, and I missed the swarms. This happens. I resorted to Plan II.
Cunningly I had been managing my existing hives to maximum numbers, of a bee/hive ratio. Then at the peek moment, just before swarming - expanding the hive with more supers. It was 4 boxes high, had a column of bees entering/leaving nearly a meter wide and thick in a 2m cone from the exit. A strong hive. Ready to go.
I cut a hole in a lid that I had spare - and I got to use power tool in a project and covered the hole in wax. The wax was cast off from an earlier extraction and was my pride and joy. It was a 4-litre block.
In a magnificent gift to myself I squandered it. Taking my skep and covering the base coils in wax, I 'sealed' the skep to the lid, above the hole. String finally held the whole thing to the top of the lid. A fine house for any bee!
The plan was that I would go out to strong hive, take the lid off and replace it with lidPlus (my new name for the lid with the skep attached), walk away unstung and with a colony of bees that in a few days would have built comb, and placed honey. The perfect crime the easiest project ever...
On the final check, I opened the lid. My beehive had swarmed. Another season missed.
As fate would have it, I had a backup backup plan, in place. Plan III - my mother.
Mother, is a wonderful individual. She has the ability to take joy and interest in what I do, and try to enjoy that I am trying to weird her out. In this case she won.
When I started beekeeping I had needed to take the swarms away for 4 weeks, and then bring them home. This allows the bees to be rehoused, and not return the place where they had been caught when swarming.
I had offered mum the opportunity to house some of my weirdness. In this I had a fair degree of confidence, as in an early attempt to 'freak out the folks' I had briefly had a potted plant of marijuana at their house. Mum had watered it. Dad got angry. The planet had left.
So the 'relocating bees' where at mums house.
In the beginning she had not liked the idea in the least. Refusing to leave the house, it had taken many confident and nonchalant hours casually sitting atop a bee hive as I 'talked' with her... surprisingly I never got stung doing THAT, and it worked. Mum accepted the hives.
When there was only 1 hive left to collect from her house -there had been 7 at one stage - mum clearly indicated that she would prefer the hive left in place, "you aren't taking MY hive today, are u???".. I got the message...
So! The lidPlus ends up on mum’s hive, which as fate always DOES have it, turned out to be very strong.
This is the result of those bees.