Bee on Flower

Spring 2010 News from Spikenard Farm and Friends
Issue No. 7
Spring News

Isn't it simply amazing that no Spring is just like any of the previous ones? The deeper we tune into the subtle activity of nature's rhythms, the more we are challenged and blessed to really become renewed in Spring. This year the burst of green and flowering bushes and trees is as strong as a symphony pouring forth with trumpets and horns, announcing the conquest of the snowy winter forces which did hold on tight until mid-March.

Looking back over the last half year: oh, were we ever wrong when we pictured a bit of rest and catching our breath after the big move to Virginia! It seems that we had never before met--- in just a few months---so many people who showed a genuine interest in our work with the honeybees. We gave a presentation on Colony Collapse Disorder introducing the work and vision of Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary to the Floyd Community. 120 enthusiastic people showed up at The Floyd Country Store; it was a great evening and appreciative mood.

We are so grateful that Woody and Jackie Crenshaw, owners of the Country Store, are so committed to helping us with our work. All of our workshops can take place in the store at no cost! The "Sustain Floyd", a great grass-root organization towards sustainability, committed "to preserve, enhance and support a resilient local community", also supports our venture.

The biodynamic workshops got off to a good start and so did the first beekeeping workshop. In May we will have the first local school class come to the farm to experience the bees.  A stream of new and old friends has 'dropped in' these past months to help with a variety of tasks and there always is such joy and mirth in these encounters.

Circle Discussion

Our trip to Portland, Oregon, sponsored by the local Anthroposophical branch and held in the Portland Waldorf School filled us with deep satisfaction and joy. The organizers really deserve a big "Thank You"! In the beekeeping workshop Vivian, for the first time, was part of it with a session on the miraculous substance of wax in its relationship to the sun forces. As she is also my official beekeeping assistant this year, a new phase of working together has begun; with her the impulse for therapeutic measures for the bees has definitely received a new emphasis.
A special event in Portland was the official screening of Taggart Siegel's new film "Queen of the Sun", which repeatedly features Spikenard Farm and beautifully captures the spiritual quality of the honeybee as well as the serious impact of CCD---if not reversed---on our possibility to evolve here on earth. We are deeply touched by Taggart's love and support of the honeybees. Since the crisis with the honeybees has deepened this past winter with a great number of colonies lost, we hope that the film will touch many people's hearts.

In this phase of a new beginning it was so comforting and heart-warming for us to receive many emails and donations, affirming our move and staying faithful and trusting in our vision and efforts to bring healing, to the best of our abilities, to the honeybees and all that touches our lives.

Now, that Spring has really settled in, the Earth is ready to give us her bounty of life forces manifesting in tender greens and the beautiful colors of flowers native to the more southern part of the East Coast.  The past warm weeks have been a joy and many of the perennials, bushes and trees we brought along, are in the ground: garden, bee forage landscape and orchard are established around the bees. Most of the colonies are now in their new, safe 'bee-house'.

Hives in Spring

The Little River is beautiful and we are filled with hope for the development of further initiatives in this place offering so much potential.  We are very grateful to have such good neighbors and welcome warmly the arrival of Nora and Harry, wonderful gardeners and farmers.

From the bottom of our hearts we say "Thank You" to all the new friends we have gained in this new location, but most of all we have such deep gratitude for all of you who have stayed with us and done so much to support our work.

We hope that you can sense that in view of all the positive events here, and the urgency to turn the honeybee crisis into a real opportunity for change, we need your help and generosity for continuing and expanding our work.

In the spirit of friendship and hope for the future, and with warm greetings from the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains,

- Gunther and Vivian
Our Bees at the Cusp of Spring
Bee on Flower 

It was a winter like in the "good ol' days": snow from before Christmas until the middle of March.  The beekeeper is happy about a steady cold, as the colonies cluster tight; body temperatures are low and the bees dip little into the honey supplies.  A few days in the 40ies at the end of February let the bees fly out and relieve the pressure on their gut.  Was the snow ever dotted with brown spots!  In earlier times these were dangerous days for the housewife who had just washed clothes and hung them out on the line to dry.  Hey, would you like to wear dotted shirts for a while?


Right around candlesmas and ground hog day, the queens respond to the sun's rising arc by laying the first eggs of the year.  Not many at first, since the eggs, larvae and pupae need to be warmed to 95 F.  Quite a feat, when the outside temperatures still dip down to the teens!

We had to wait long to see the bees carry in the first pollen;  it was the second week in March!  The first brownish bits of pollen were soon supplemented by heavier packages of bright yellow 'beebread', a sight that lets the beekeeper's heart jump with joy.


The winter losses were slight, for which we are so grateful, since the big move certainly did stress them.  Unfortunately two colonies were lost to invasion of mice, in spite of the hives being almost 3 ft. off the ground. The colonies in the end of April are getting heavier with new honey, pollen and lots of brood.  At this time decisions  will be made from which colonies we plan to have natural offspring: important characteristics are: low mite pressure, gentleness combined with vigor and diligence,  and good over-wintering capacity.  These colonies will not be supered early, since keeping them tight through April will encourage them to swarm.  The month of May will keep us busy with hopefully catching swarms and making splits of some of the swarmed colonies that have provided a number of young queens.


Besides all this, we are intensifying the research into medicinal substances and plants and the best way to administer them (essential oils, essences, teas) We are also continuing  to explore different hive bodies, like  top bar hive (different sizes for different climatic conditions),  golden section hive, Warre hive, hexagonal hive).


It's an exciting time of the year!


- Gunther

Spikenard comes to Portland, Oregon!

Gunther in Portland
(Article adapted from Portland Waldorf School Newsletter)

Portland Waldorf School was the host of a special conference on March 19, 20 and 21 presented by the Portland Branch of the Anthroposophical Society.  The conference featured Gunther Hauk and Vivian Struve-Hauk of Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary based in Floyd, Virginia. The topic of the conference was Colony Collapse Disorder: A Blessing in Disguise. The blessing, according to Hauk, is the opportunity for human beings to become sensitive to the importance of the honeybee in our cultural evolution and environmental sustainability. Nearly 70 people attended the conference, hailing from all over Oregon, northern California, Seattle, and British Columbia.

Friendly Haven Farm's Jacqueline and Joe Freeman (from Washington State) and's Matt Reed were valuable exhibitors. Thank you to Matt, for bringing one of his beautiful colonies from Oak Grove Oregon. Our fully flowering campus provided delicious forage for the bees and they graced the event as only these gentle organisms can.

On Saturday night, in the center of all of the activity, nearly 300 people from the wider community and bee conference participants were treated to a very special screening of the upcoming film Queen of the Sun on March 20th at Sunnyside Church in SE Portland. Gunther Hauk is featured in the film with beekeepers from around the world, including Jacqueline Freeman, who is filmed doing a swarm rescue for a new beekeeper in Portland. This beautiful, sobering, and inspiring film is the latest project by Taggart Siegel, the director of the award-winning film, The Real Dirt on Farmer John. Taggart and his wife Jenny are parents in our Rose Kindergarten. The film premiered April 20th at the Nashville Film festival with an award (where Real Dirt won top prize by none other than Al Gore). Proceeds from the March 30th screening provided important finishing funds for the film and for Spikenard Farm.
-Lauren Johnson
Upcoming Events

Interested in visiting Spikenard Farm?  Join us for several workshops taking place during the summer season.  Please email us for more details about the events.

May 22nd: Beekeeping Workshop - "Expanding the Apiary Naturally"

June 12th: Biodynamic Workshop - Working with life rythms; also making the horn-silica biodynamic preparation (Gunther)

August 21st: Beekeeping Workshop - "Honey harvest, Mite treatments, Winter preparation"

September 25th: Biodynamic Workshop - Making the fall biodynamic preparations (Gunther, Hugh)

November 13th: Food Does Matter (Gunther)

Online Links

Latest update on Colony Collapse Disorder

Floyd Video Community

Biodynamic Association

In This Issue

Spring News from Gunther & Vivian
Our Bees at the Cusp of Spring

Spikenard comes to Portland, Oregon!

Upcoming Events

Online Links
Spikenard Farm E-News Archive

Browse our newsletters by clicking on any of the links below

September/October 2009

Spikenard Farm Special Update 10/13/2009

November 2009
Donate to Spikenard Farm

Help to sustain Spikenard Farm and it's mission by mailing tax deductible donations to:

Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary
445 Floyd Highway North
Floyd, VA 24091

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We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it."

- Wendell Berry