Monday, 24 September 2012

Field Study's Man in E17 finds John, Fritz and August

Walthamstow Central Library has a copy of, The Forgotten Arts and Crafts, written by John Seymour and first published by Dorling Kindersley in 1984.
Here are some library references & links to, The Forgotten Arts and Crafts.
John Seymour along with the brilliant DK design team produced a fascinating compendium of arts and crafts remembered through an accessible writing style illustrated by a wealth of drawings and photographs including archive photographs. Some of the content may be nostalgic and sentimental e.g. the colour pencil drawing of a Victorian kitchen (p.206-207), however this does not necessarily detract from the book's usefulness in finding out more about the Hoe St, Co-op skeps featured in the previous post, Field Study's Man in E17 photo forages.

In that post I commented, via Wikipedia, that the use of skeps involved killing the bees if honey was to be harvested. Seymour includes beekeeping in the tome and suggests a method of skep use that does not destroy the resident honey bee colony. A skep full of bees and honeycomb is carefully turned upside down and an empty skep placed on top of it. The bees are supposed to move upwards into the empty skep leaving a less bee-ful skep from which honeycomb can be taken with less detrimental effects on the bees. Seymour commented that he had 'never done this' but had been 'assured that it works'. (p.173)
When (at what time of year) would a skep beekeeper do this and how long would it take? Would the honeycomb only be partially harvested and the remaining comb given back to the bees by reversing the process?
To complement John Seymour's recollection of skeps, there is this excellent video sourced from Youtube about the making of skeps; an art and a craft not so forgotten going by the number of videos uploaded to the site. There is a sense of careful stage management and theatricality about this demonstration; the light and spaciousness of the set, the sparseness of the interior, the costumes of Fritz and August, the absorbing measured pace of the narration with pauses to allow the deft hands 'to do the talking' - quite dreamy if not surreal.  

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