In Eva Crane's article about the history of beekeeping is an intriguing drawing made in 1682 by
Sir George Wheler showing a hive he had seen in Greece.
My copy of the 1682 drawing has slight modification to fit the bars inside the top of the main skep, so that the roof, which is not shown on the drawing, would fit on easily. I guessed the roof as a simple flat disc that covers the top of the skep. There is a bottom entrance and the floor is fixed. It's a lot like a normal skep upside down.
May 19th. The swarm has just been shaken out of the tree and the lid put on.
Closer view shows the stragglers entering.
You can see the wheat straw and brambles construction of the skep and lid.
June 5th. 5combs have been started BUT the bees have built at right angles to the bars. This presents a problem. The aim was to have each comb hanging from one top bar so that they can be lifted out for inspection. The bars are willow sticks.
I have had a number of suggestions about the misaligned combs, some more practical than others.
I agree that I should have made the bars with a ridge along the underside and that coating the ridge with wax would have helped the bees build in the intended places. However, the combs were already built.
I do not believe that bees line up the combs according to magnetism or the points of the compass, having seen all sorts of arrangements over the years. Nor do I believe power cables and mobile phones have any effect at all.
The bees survived the winter (though others nearby died out in a long cold spell) and a look inside on April 3rd showed many bees and good clean combs. Soon it would be time to try re-aligning the combs so they could be lifted out for inspection. I intended to cut out the sticks and replace them directly above the combs, then wait for the bees to re-attach combs to sticks before I cut the combs free from the walls.
However, the bees dwindled and died out during May - maybe the queen had not survived, so none of the above follow-on work took place.
I have kept the skep to show to people when I do skep demos and classes, but the bees are gone.
The comb was all removed when wax moths started too eat it.