MB: No, not like straw mat, more like tightly packed hay bale. That link is a good starting point, but it assumes a certain level of knowledge commonly lacking in the industrialised world - BECAUSE of industrialisation. A proper and thorough description of how to pack and hold the straw, particularly at corners, is lacking and those areas are where I'm needing help.
Cindi: In fact, Alaska has NO laws regarding hive type at all. If I really want, I CAN keep bees in skeps. I'm not going to because they are labor intensive. I am going to build hive-bodies from straw, if I can find some useful instructions or, better, a teacher to help me out.