Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Quiz - the Answer

A Bee Bole is the official name of the structure - i.e an individual recess or row of recesses usually set into a stone or brick wall. Each recess holds one Bee Skep - a skep being a coiled straw bee hive which has been traditionally used by bee keepers until the introduction of wooden hives around the 1850s. The word "bole" is an old Scottish word meaning a wall recess. 

A big thank you to all of those who attempted the quiz and offered an interesting variety of comments. The first and only 100% correct answer was given by John from the blog By Stargoose and Hanglands. John knew that the recesses were called Bee Boles and that the hives are called Bee Skeps . The second answer came from Jeanneke who said "is it a bee hotel for solitary bees to use for pollinating?" Jeanneke was definitely on the right track as she recognised that the structure was for bees. However, these structures and hives are for honey bees Apis mellifera who live in large colonies unlike solitary bees.  Anyone who is interested in the life story of a solitary bee can read a post that I wrote about them here. Wondering if it was possible to have a second attempt, "yes", I was more than happy for anyone to try again, Britta said "are the holes to put bee hives into?" An excellent second attempt Britta. A 50% correct answer came from "East Witton" (no name or blog) who said that Bee Skeps filled the recesses, but omitted to give a name to the structure and recesses. Finally comment number No.5 arrived from Yoko who said that in the third image she imagined holes for bees as apartments - Yoko's answer is definitely travelling along the right track.  

Bee keeping was a common activity for hundreds of years being the main source of sweetness before the arrival of sugar. It was a commodity in high demand not only for the honey but also for the beeswax which was used to make candles and tapers for churches, cathedrals, abbeys and the grand homes of the wealthy. The common man would have used tallow which is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat. Tithes and rents were often paid for with honey and/or beeswax, and even bee swarms.

I mentioned that we have a Bee Bole structure in one of our drystone garden walls which also holds a Bee Skep. It is not easy to find a Bee Skep craftsperson, but eventually I successfully tracked someone down.

The golden straw of the Bee Skep has weathered and mellowed now that it is in situ.

16 comments:

  1. I'm glad that I learned a lot, Rosemary, thank you - and even got the affirmation that it is always worth not to give up, but try again. :-)

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  2. I only knew because one of my great-uncles used to keep bees when I was very young. Being given a piece of the honeycomb is my only memory of him.

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  3. Oh, this is wonderful and fascinating! Thanks for posting about this -- you know how I love bees! And I love that medieval illustration of bees at the top of your post.

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  4. Hello Rosemary, What beautiful and important additions to gardens are these bee boles (and their associated skeps). I love the architectural structure of the last photo, which resembles ancient ruins, and I am always enchanted with large-scale photos from your garden--doubly magical when I am viewing from gray Taipei. --Jim

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  5. Dear Rosemary, Never would have thought that bees were involved, It's always wonderful to get a glimpse of your fabulous garden. Any excuse will do.

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  6. Long time ago rosemary I am happy that you are still on the blog. Best wishes and keep going🤩

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  7. There's always something new to learn! Bee boles! Your garden is a delightful place.

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  8. Thank you Rosemary for the interesting quiz. My father was a hobby bee-keeper in his younger years. He told and learned me quite a lot about the amazzzzzing bees.

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  9. Doh! Like everything else it's obvious once it is pointed out as there's a limited number of things they farmed or grew to eat in past times with a much simpler diet. (beats head against wall....) I should have guessed that as I've seen that shape of old fashioned hive featured on TV several times....

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  10. How marvellous! Boles must have been quite a sight back in the day when filled with skeps.

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  11. I'm sorry i missed the quiz. I wrote an article for our garden club on bee boles. They fascinate me and I'm seriously envious you have one in your garden.

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  12. Dear Rosemary - It’s interesting to learn about beekeeping. A bee bole in the wall of your garden is a nice look. After I sent a comment, I still wondered if it could be an alcove for placing religious object. I’m glad one of my guesses was very close to the answer.

    Yoko

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  13. Ah! Very interesting. I have learned something.

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  14. Thanks dear Rosemary - you bring such interesting things to light here and, as always, I love seeing bits of your amazing garden and walls.

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