The object you can see to the left is a skep in a bole. It is there for the benefit of the British black bee.
The word bole with the meaning (from the OED) “An unglazed aperture in the wall of a castle, cottage, stable, etc., for admitting air or light; sometimes closed with a shutter” is a new one on me. It unfortunately is not known where the word comes from.
The word skep was unknown to me until yesterday. Its basic meaning is “basket, hamper”, but is also used to mean a bee-hive made of basket work, or as verb to mean “to cause bees to enter a hive”. The word has cognates with much the same meaning in a number of Germanic languages.
This fascinating information came to me on a visit to Godolphin House yesterday. Godolphin is a 17th century manor house about 30 minutes drive from here. The skep in the bole is to be found in The King’s Garden there. The National Trust, which now owns Godolphin, is participating in a scheme to save the British black bee, which is larger, hairier and better adapted to the climate of the UK than other varieties. The black bee has been threatened as a species for a long time now. It suffered a disastrous decline because of a virus infection many years ago and bee-keepers imported other varieties, mainly from Italy. Anything that can increase the number of bees around is good thing, I reckon.
The name Godolphin, by the way, is a bit of a problem. The only thing that the excellent Oliver Padel will say about it is that the element go may be the equivalent of Welsh prefix go, meaning “slight, small”.