Summer 10 Banner
September 2010 News from Spikenard Farm and Friends
Issue No. 8
Summer Update and
Fall Greetings

Spikenard's first summer in Floyd was simply beautiful. Lots of
sunshine, warmth and plenty enough rain in August after a short
drought. When temperatures rose to the three-digit-level in the lower elevations of Virginia, we kept refreshed by the cooler nights. How grateful we are to be able to live and work in this beautiful landscape.  The gratitude is enforced by witnessing, in the news, how many people and animals suffer in our time through horrendous destruction by natural catastrophes and ultimately our own deeds.

Floyd Sunset
Click here to view more photos of Spikenard Farm.

With the work on the perennial flower garden, the vegetable garden, plowing and discing the first 2 1/2 acres for bee forage, we had the good help of Harry and Nora as well as a number of visiting friends. As most of the visitors said "you don't wait around long to get something done", we felt recognized in our motivation to place deeds of transformation into the ground, knowing that the spiritual world can then also act and help.

Three biodynamic and three beekeeping local workshops are already accomplished and it feels like a good beginning. Our workshops usually start in the Floyd Country Store and then we move out to the farm or to the Josephine Porter Institute, depending on the topic.

bees in hole

Our summer activities included promoting and teaching about biodynamic agriculture, sustainable beekeeping and the crisis we are in.  We also participated in two radio shows featuring the CCD topic. I had the opportunity to be part of the Rudolf Steiner Institute's summer courses with a one-week workshop on biodynamics and the bees. It was a great joy to meet so many new and some old friends and I am so grateful to all those planning and carrying out these vibrant and inspiring activities.

A new development in our part of the Little River Valley occurred this summer.  Eight acres with a solid brick farmhouse came up for sale, ideal in its location and potential for the honeybee sanctuary to find its physical home.  That place offers great possibilities for workshops, visitors and housing. We do have a vision for the eight acres that slope down to the Little River, and are currently working to prepare landscaping, action and business plans.

A heartfelt "thanks!" goes out to Woody and Jackie Crenshaw, our neighbors in the valley, who stepped in and bought the eight-acre property, holding it for one year until we can raise the funds to purchase it. In our development planning for the next five years, it became clear that, in order to build capacity and create the basis for younger people to take on this work in a few years, the expansion of staff is the most urgent thing. The first step in this direction is to have David Hosey join us in November, after he finishes a biodynamic apprenticeship. He brings lots of beekeeping experience and we are very much looking forward to having him with us. This step will allow me to travel more, spreading the urgent message about the need to adopt sustainable, healing beekeeping methods.

Of course we hope to get the support to be able to cover his needs and operating expenses.  Please help us with your generous donation!  New features such as online credit card processing and Paypal payments are available.

- Gunther and Vivian
Our Bees

For the bees it was a good summer, too.  The feared "summer-hole", with little or no forage for the bees, was filled with ample amounts of white clover in the surrounding fields. Since our fields have lots of plantain growing, we were amazed how much pollen the bees collected from these tender stalks that bent under their weight. And now, late August way into September, a perennial 'weed' in the aster family, called  the "wingstem" (verbesina alternifolia), is worked from morning till evening for nectar and pollen.  We sure do have a lot of it growing around the fields!

We did not have many swarms this year---they seemed to just get really grounded in their new home---the result of which was a very good honey harvest.  The taste is absolutely delicious.  Of course we leave our colonies most of the fruits of their labor, enough for their winter supply, and only take what we consider really "surplus", intended for us human beings to thrive on. In our beekeeping workshops, the response to our ideas and ideals is heartening. Participants are touched by discovering that the bees can be treated in an appropriate, gentle way (without veil or suit) and are deeply satisfied to learn new ways to take care of them.

The perennial bee forage garden we started got established well and will be extended this fall.  Our vegetable garden is still producing loads of good vegetables, but also serves the bees with a variety of holy basil, catnip, borage and other goodies to feed on.

We are continuing our research with essential oils and teas in support of strengthening the bees' immune system. The health of the colonies is good, judged by the expansion in spring and summer, their diligence and just plain vibrancy.  As in the human realm, here too, the exception proves the rule.

Please read the article "Bees, Sustainers of Life" on our website to get a real sense of just how serious the crisis, and thereby our work, is.


- Gunther

Tips on Preparing the Bees for Winter

For healthy survival of the colonies through the winter months, the following measures should be taken:

1) Decrease mite pressure: more than 3 dead mites/day might finish your colony by November/December. Thymol or formic acid treatment soon! Monitor mite fall after treatment, and if necessary, repeat treatment.

2) 40-50 lbs of honey are needed for over-wintering. Alas, if sugar syrup has to be substituted, it should be improved with 5-10% of good honey, chamomile tea and a pinch of salt. More info in my book "Toward Saving the Honeybee". Reduce entrance while feeding to avoid robbery.

3) Put on mouse guards already in October.

4) Take off supers not necessary to reduce space to be heated.

5) Send your bees thoughts of gratitude for all they do in nature.

Thoughts are realities.

Upcoming Events

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

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

 September 30th to October 3rd:  " Biodynamics and The Future of Agriculture".  Annual Biodynamic Conference in Spring Valley.
- An introduction to Biodynamic Agriculture
-  The Honeybee crisis: an opportunity to transform destructive agricultural practices.

October 15 - 17th : " Transforming Social Capacities through spiritual experiences of nature".  Chicago.

November 13th: A Radically New Understanding of Nutrition (Gunther at Spikenard Farm)

The Biodynamic Workshops are sponsored by Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary and Josephine Porter Institute.
Beekeeping Workshops are sponsored by the SustainFloyd Organization.

In This Issue
Summer Update and Fall Greetings
Our Bees
Tips on Preparing the Bees for Winter
Upcoming Events
Donate Online to Spikenard Farm!

Help to sustain Spikenard Farm and it's mission with your generous donation!

New payment features are available on our website to make your donation as easy as possible.  One can either place a single or recurring donations via credit card using our secure online donation form, or through Paypal.  Click here to view all the options.

Tax deductible donations can also be mailed directly to:

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

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
Find Out More
Find us on Facebook

Find out more about Spikenard Farm featured in the film Queen of the Sun.

Sign up for the quarterly Bzzzz Or pass this e-mail on to friends who might be interested!

Like to share your thoughts? email us!
The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope."

- Wendell Berry