I am currently holidaying in Scotland. For several weeks I have been on the look-out for beeboles. A beebole is an alcove or hole in a wall, where a skep or skeps could be placed; they were used to protect the skep and its bee inhabitants from the wind and rain.
Mr Woodley described Beedon (England) as having skeps within hackles as described in my previous blog. My research in Beedon has, alas, found no beeboles. Yesterday, I went to Dunfermline and visited the Abbots House and guess what, I found a beebole with skep! I must add that there were no bees in skep.
I remember a couple of months ago, asking a local historian in Wantage (England) about whether back-in-the-day pubs would sell mead. He thought that mead and inferred beekeeping, were more ecclesiastical activities. As such, beekeeping didn’t register in his interpretation of the history of Wantage. I can understand why he might think beekeeping didn’t exist except in monasteries because hard evidence of beekeeping, like a beebole, can last centuries, whereas skeps have a much shorter life. Wantage, like Beedon, beekeepers would use skeps and there is more than one way to protect a skep from the elements than building a beebole, see photograph below.
I do have evidence that there was beekeeping in Wantage in the 19th Century see photograph below, although in my own mind I didn’t have any doubt.
Changing tack a little, some people I talk to don’t believe there is a village called ‘Beedon’. This is quite a common reaction, not just for me but also for Mr Woodley:
While referring to Beedon, I may here add a personal word to say it is a village seven miles north of Newbury. The church of St. Nicholas is some 700 years old. I just mention this because some readers of our B.B.J, evidently think that the term “Beedon” has been adopted by myself as the name of my house, and I often get letters with “Try Beedon” in blue pencil where correspondents have addressed me at “Newbury” only. [28 September 1898, Mr Woodley, British Bee Journal].
But there is almost an equivalent to ‘Beedon’ in Dumfriesshire (Scotland) see photo below:
Not sure if it is pronounced ‘Bees Wing’ or ‘Bee Swing’. And to close, here is a photograph of a bee-swing or maybe a bee-spring?