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August 2009 News from Spikenard Farm and Friends
Issue No. 2
August News from the Farm
Bees and Pollen

The bees are definitely making progress this year -- when I compare this year's work with and for the honeybees, I can see very satisfactory development. Our overall work on the farm is to help build an environmentthat will strengthen the bees' immune system against an onslaught of detrimental forces.  Decades of poison-addicted agriculture and invasive
beekeeping methods, I believe, have lead to the degradation of these fascinating organisms and gifts of nature.

On the farm last year the food supply for the bees was not good at all.  The bees flew strongly into willow oaks which supplied perhaps some strengthening forces, but no forage. To my great amazement and deep satisfaction, the bees are not flying into the willow trees this year, at least not up to now.

Also, the goldenrod did not give nectar last fall. So we had to feed the colonies a sugar syrup or let them starve over the winter. This sugar feeding is not good for them at all and should only be practiced when absolutely necessary.

In spite of my worries of how they would take this emergency feeding, the hives did winter extremely well and the winter losses were only 13%. That included two colonies that were weakened by mice during the winter. This year they seem to have become acclimated to the local nectar and pollen supply. They brought in loads of pollen and much nectar from the honey locust trees as well as the neighboring black locust trees and a variety of bushes.

In spite of the very wet spring (the 4th wettest in recorded local history), the colonies built up fast and we began to catch swarms in May and to add honey-supers at the beginning of June. By July a good number of hives had two supers filled with capped honey and we have a wonderful
honey harvest. We are selling it at the St. Louis market along with many beautiful vegetables. Of  course we are leaving them enough supplies for their own needs!

The mite population has been held in check by the bees themselves and I only have to treat some colonies during August against the varroa mite. The stock of honeybees I have been working with seems to become very inventive in keeping the mite population at a tolerable level.

At the beginning of August, the buckwheat, which was sown at the same time as the sunflowers, is almost finished blooming and the sunflowers have come into their own and radiate their gold into the blue skies. Native bees, bumble bees, as well as our own honeybees are very diligent in that field and the strips sown at the border of the soy bean field.

Earlier in Spring, a few acres of mustard kept them busy -- and also healthy, since mustard has medicinal value them as well as for us.  The swales of perennial bee forage we planted last year and expanded this year not only look beautiful, but are frequented regularly. Right now the
echinacea and anise hyssop are humming with insects.

With the help of our interns, we can accomplish the major weekly tasks with the bees.  The amazing gifts the bees bring to us and to all of nature are deeply appreciated.  May we, with your help, continue to serve their needs and strengthen them.  Have a wonderful August.

-Gunther Hauk
Moving Bees
Spikenard's Bees - make them part of your Social Networking

Facebook & Twitter
While we can't claim to know what scientist/philosopher Rudolf Steiner or social artist Joseph Beuys would say about Facebook or Twitter, we can share their interest in social sculpture and bees.  In 1923 Steiner gave eight lectures on bees and predicted the challenges they would face with
the prevailing system of beekeeping.  Beuys drew from Steiner's work and the bees' "elemental imagery and relationship to human society played an important role in Beuys's sculptures, drawings, installations, and performance art." (Steinerbooks.or, Bees.)

Today, it is fitting to grow Spikenard Farm's online presence through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Like the bee, we can share and work toward common goals within a network of peers.  We can learn from the hive and the habits of bees in so many ways.  While Spikenard may currently be less known in wider circles of sustainable agriculture or beekeeping, we can use social networking tools
to help spread word about Spikenard and its work. 

Join Spikenard Farm on our Twitter and Facebook page if you'd like weekly updates and info!
A Warm Thank You

 
Spikenard is grateful for the generous support of individuals and foundations.  We appreciate the recent grants from the Woodhouse Foundation and Christopher Reynolds Foundation for their support of our operations.  Thank you for helping Spikenard Farm and Apiary carry on its work on behalf of bees and biodynamic agriculture in the midwest.
 
Toward Saving the Honeybee

In this book by our own Gunther Hauk, he "invites the reader to experience the innate intelligence and wonder of the natural world. In addition to being a guide to the care and protection of the honeybee, that invaluable member of our life sustaining agroecology, this manual demonstrates how the ills plaguing our honeybees proceed from the ills in
our manner of living and doing business. This life ennobling book could just as easily be titled Toward Saving our Humanity!"
 
It is available to order online at $18.95 plus shipping by clicking here

Create a Bee Friendly Garden!
 
Researchers globally are documenting declining numbers of many types of pollinators:  native bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and wasps. Home gardeners can easily invite pollinators back to their yards.

Here are a Few Simple Steps to a Bee Friendly Garden:


  • Go organic. Avoid the use of pesticides. (Information on environmentally friendlier garden products is available at www.ourwaterourworld.org )

  • Leave some small sunny areas of soil mulch-free as habitat for ground-nesting, native bees.
  • Install bee-nesting blocks available at garden nurseries.
  • Plant less or smaller lawns.
  • Aim for continuous bloom. For spring bloomers, plant: Aster, Borage, Forget-Me-Not,Wild, lilac, Coreopsis, Clarkia, California poppy, Penstemon, Phacelia,Tansy, Tidytips, Coffeeberry and Salvia. For summer bloomers, try Agastache, Bergamot, Black-eyed Susan, Checkerbloom, Cleome, Cosmos, Coneflower, Buckwheat, Gaillardia, Lavender, Lilac, Sunflower, Rosemary, Scabiosa, Yarrow and Verbena.
  • Support local beekeepers and organic farmers at your local Farmer's Market.
 

Author: Annie Spiegelman http://www.dirtdiva.com  
In This Issue

August News from the Farm

Bees and Social Networking

Forestry at Spikenard

Book: Towards Saving the Honeybee

Tips to Create a Bee Friendly Garden
What You Can Do
Help support our continuing efforts for the Honeybee.  Or consider volunteering at Spikenard Farm!
 
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About Spikenard

Established a non-profit organization in 2006, Spikenard Farm and Apiary is creating a biodynamic farm with a bee sanctuary at its
heart, cultivating an environment that promotes life and health.  We choose to do this in the heartland of the USA, where damages to the soil, the water, to the social structure of the farming communities are,
perhaps, more severe than in other regions of the country.

We offer training in beekeeping and biodynamic farming and gardening and provide educational programs for children. We aim to enable future farmers, beekeepers and educators to develop faculties and practices needed to allow agriculture to be the foundation for a sustainable and thriving culture.

While we continue to pioneer this effort, we depend on volunteers,
grants and individual donations to support our core operations and capital improvements.

Contributions to Spikenard Farm and Apiary are fully tax deductible.
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