Bees have been kept for their honey from ancient times. Although honey was originally collected from bees’ nests in hollow trees, people soon decided to make artificial nests for the honeybees to live in. This made collecting the honey much easier. The earliest and most simple man made form of beehive is the bee skep. Early hives were made from straw and clay and mimicked the natural cavities bees would choose in the wild. By Medieval times intricate straw skeps were being made. As these were not weatherproof many were covered with thatch or a render similar to that used on house walls (a mix of mud, dung and lime). The basic design was very similar in all cases ~ an upturned bowl with a small hole at the base for the bees to enter and exit the hive. Most had a "handle" made from a short, thick tree branch or a woven loop. The handle was used by the bee keeper to check for honey without upsetting the bees. It is rare to find these old woven bee skeps ~ most are destroyed when honey is removed. This bee skep is from the southern region of France; lovely aged and weathered patina. Tightly woven, it measures 18 inches tall (excluding the handle), with a base diameter of 16 inches. Old rope tied around the woven loop for hanging when not in use. We love these old bee skeps used in your garden or display on a patio table; lovely centerpiece! If interested in purchasing, please contact me directly. We only have a few available.