Boles are alcoves or shelves built into walls to house skeps of bees, the way it was done before the invention of efficient, wooden beehives. By placing the skep in the alcove it would be protected from the worst of the rain and insulated from the cold on 3 sides.
Towards the bottom of our drive are a couple of derelict buildings with bee boles, one called Beekeepers Cottage. ‘Our’ bee boles are beautiful, dry-stone constructions, but a bit run down.
Just down the road towards Dolgellau, at Dolmelynllyn Hall, the National Trust are restoring their wall of bee boles. It’s a case of one-upmanship, not just a few but 46 boles!
On 5th June 2011 they are holding an open day to celebrate 75 years of the property being in National Trust ownership. This event will include an expert on hand to explain the traditions of bee-keeping with skeps on display. The wall and the skeps will not be used for bee-keeping as this is not good for the welfare of the bees compared to modern hives.
If you miss the open day it’s still a sight worth seeing. The old house was the one time home of William Madocks, builder of the Cob at Porthmadog, and is now a characterful hotel and restaurant.