There are 2 ways to make them.
The real way, with straw ...
and a faux bee skep (cheater) way!
To know how to make a real bee skep, the best tutorial I have found is here: http://www.colonialsense.com/How-To_Guides/Outdoors/Bee_Skep.php
But...if you are a suburb/city gal without a supply of straw on hand... (or if it's the middle of winter) a bee skep may be made from raffia from the dollarstore, and twine!
~How to Make an Ice Cream Container/Easy Raffia Hive~
here is how I cheat:
My bee skeps are sewn onto something! Like a bell shaped basket or ..even an ice cream container!! hee hee!(since raffia will not stand up on it's own, it requires a base.)
-Wear a mask.~ you really don't want to breathe in raffia dust!
-For a basket, I sew through the slats.
-For an ice cream container, I drill holes (staggered/intermittently) every 1 inch.Thus you will sew every 1 inch, with a needle that has a large eye to hold the twine.
~Don't worry about making the holes perfect, in fact..add a few extra... and you can always poke a hole with an exacto if you need an extra hole as you sew.No big deal.
USE ROW 1 OF HOLES (AT THE BOTTOM) FOR THE FIRST 2 ROWS OF RAFFIA. THE THIRD ROW OF RAFFIA IS SEWN DOWNWARDS INTO THE 2nd ROW OF HOLES, THE FOURTH ROW OF RAFFIA IS SEWN DOWN INTO THE 3rd ROW OF HOLES...etc.Real bee skeps are done from top to bottom. Faux bee skeps like mine,(for display purposes) are sewn bottom to top.
-How much raffia will I need? For a large one, approx. 8 packs, for a medium sized one, 6-7 packs of raffia.
-What do I do when my twine threader runs out? Sew back inside, tie a knot and start with new twine.
-What kind of twine do you use?I use hemp twine from walmart.
-I keep losing my threader amidst the pack of raffia as I sew! Mark the twine close to your large needle, mark it with red or green.
-What do I do when the raffia runs out/thins? You must continually add long pieces of raffia over and over with each stitch, hiding the new raffia's under the original bunch, and continue sewing, adding as you go.
You want to keep your raffia bunch 1 inch thick all the time.
-How do I keep the container from showing through each row or raffia? Sew slightly downwards in the hole that is underneath the last row, and ensure your raffia is 1 inch thick, and pulled tightly.
-How do I finish off the top?Only the first 2 rows at the top are sewn on (see circle above), the rest is twirled round and round, and glued round and round to fill in the center of the container. You may twirl around several levels to get more of a dome shape /height at the top if you wish. Use hot glue very sparingly, you don't want it to show.
-How do I make the opening? The opening is just a square hole cut in the container, between holes, with an exacto knife. (Be careful).Sew VERY tightly and knot tightly before cutting the raffia. CUT THE RAFFIA SLIGHTLY LONGER PAST THE HOLE.
You can leave your hive natural, or, you can age it using paint and CAT LITTER!
Hee Hee, yup! An ice cream container/cat litter HIVE!
A good sized hive takes 3-4 hours, but you will save LOADS of money, as a hive will cost you less than 10 bucks! However...I am a slow crafter, and a bit of a perfectionist,lol, so I think one could be done in about 2 hours, especially with practice...
You can paint the inside with acrylic paints to camouflauge the container.