Lilac Way fireplaces were nicknamed ‘beehives’ because they look like skeps—baskets placed open-end-down—used to house bees for more than 2,000 years. Initially made from wicker plastered with mud and dung, from the Middle Ages they were made of straw. In its simplest form, there is a single entrance at the bottom.
There’s no internal structure so the colony produces its own honeycomb, attached to the inside. Skeps have two disadvantages; beekeepers cannot inspect the comb for diseases and pests, and honey removal is difficult, often resulting in destruction of colony.
As of 1998, most US states prohibited skeps because they cannot be inspected for disease and parasites.
Here’s an awesome blog about keeping backyard bees in straw skeps.
Karen Laukkonen | Website Designer and Lilac Enthusiast