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Spikenard Farm News: Mid-Winter 2011
Issue No. 10

Dear Bee-Friends, 


Frozen seed pods 

 We hope you all had a good, inwardly strengthening winter time so far.  We send our warm thanks to all of you who have supported our venture in response to our holiday appeal letter, to the Kickstarter video project and with the screenings of "Queen of the Sun".  This heart-warming response not only helps us proceed with our work, but also gives us so much confidence that our efforts are understood and needed.

Please check our website for our educational offerings this spring and summer, also for our volunteer work days and trips out of town for screenings, talks and workshops.


Grass-root activities in the last months.

 So much has happened for the bees in the last months in the petitions against the use of neonicotinoids.  How wonderful what a strong grass-root movement can accomplish.  The battle is not won yet, but the pressure is applied here in the USA, following the countries where these chemicals have been banned: France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia. However, we will not be surprised if the chemical companies will soon attempt to befriend and soothe us with "safe" chemical solutions, so let's be awake.

 We are grateful for each and every one of these activists, and at the same time must say, that the cause for CCD goes far beyond the chemical poisons.  These are just part of the mono-culture, mineral fertilizer, GMO, bottom-line mentality of our agriculture, of which the honeybees are an integral part.  Just think of the tons of GMO corn syrup the colonies are fed, and the amount of monocultures they are forced to pollinate.


Those of you who know us at Spikenard Farm, will know that our efforts go towards intensifying our observation and understanding of the honeybee colony, out of which come the creative answers for her care.  Certainly the invigoration, diversification and healing of her surrounding and food supply is part of this path.


Suggestions for the seasonal transition

Looking at the bee colonies at this time of the year, I would like to make following remarks and give some suggestions.


The beekeeper's heart jumps with joy to see clouds of bees in front of their hives flying out to go to the 'toilet' on a warm day in January or February.  The snow is speckled with golden brown dots, a good sign.  New beekeepers are often worried about all the dead bees they see in front of the hive at such times.  This is normal.  The workers that hatched from September on will die off in winter and early Spring.

Winter Hives             

Checking for the honey supply is an absolute must at this time on such a warm day.  With some experience, lifting the hive will let you know whether they have enough.  Or you can take a quick look by lifting the inner cover a bit, since this is where the cluster normally sits by now.  In case you need to supplement the supplies, a quart of dense syrup of white sugar/honey mixture in chamomile tea, with a pinch of salt, can be given by adding an empty hive body, in which the quart jar stands holey lid facing down, close to the cluster.  In case of Nosema (dark brown spots all over the frames), a pint of honey in chamomile tea is advisable and can help them to overcome the illness.


If overwintering in two deeps and one super, February is the time to take off the lower deep, which can be cleaned up and added above the remaining deep in mid- to late April.  This way the dark comb in the deep brood boxes get cleaned up every two years. Even more important, the bees are tight and warm during the cold months when the brood has to be warmed to 95 F!  This is one of the factors helping to prevent foulbrood.

Giving a bit more airflow is now important for preventing a buildup of moisture in the hive.


And...don't forget to go to your hive(s), express your gratitude for their wonderful work and being, sing them a song, and give them a prayer.  Rest assured:

the BIG BEE receives your blessings.


- Gunther



 Winter Dreams


"When icicles hang by the wall

And Dick the shephard blows his nails..."


                                                - W. Shakespeare, sonnet



...then the honeybee colony is cuddled in a tight cluster, metabolic processes at 'low flame'.


bee hives

These bees are not as cold and stiff as the bumblebee or wasp queens which go through the winter months solitarily, unmovable and without food in a protected tight space.  Slowly the honeybee colony moves along the honey stores-the gift of last year's sun--giving them light in the time of darkness and warmth during winter's cold.


 For us this is the time to go inward, to study, reflect and contemplate,  deepening our understanding of the Earth's wonders and our mission on it.  This inwardness, trained and practiced at mid-winter's beckoning, will show its harvest in the months to come, when outward activity challenges our strengthened will, our heightened understanding.


 This polarity of life, guided by the earth's rhythms, can also be witnessed in two evolutionary streams.  The inwardness, which the Buddha had attained in his long development as a Bodhisattva, was gifted to mankind in his teachings of love and compassion.  These virtues are accomplishments of the heart, are a transformation of the Self for the good of humanity.


The other stream is one of transformation of matter, of the Earth, for the good of all the beings living on this beloved planet.  It is a stream that has to do with the transformation of nature into culture. Agri-culture led the way on this path, followed by the arts and sciences. The stone, earth or wood are transformed into dwellings, the clay into pottery, the metallic ore into implements and jewelry.  An incredible training of human faculties are the gifts gleaned from these activities.


This stream was initiated approximately 10,000 years ago by the great Zarathustra in ancient Persia, modern-day Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.  (What are we destroying there for the sake of oil and power??)

 winter seedpods

 We can find these polarities, necessary for evolution, symbolized by Cain and Abel.  The latter tread softly on the earth as a shepherd, only taking from nature what she readily offers, giving in return offerings in a sacral state of purity and gratitude. Cain, on the other hand, destroys the given wisdom and beauty of nature in order to learn how to create man-made wisdom and beauty, become a co-creator.  As we know, we are still in this learning process, especially in modern times when the motive of bottom-line has supplanted that of beauty and wisdom.


But we did make progress, did not fumble all the time; think of the beautiful cathedrals, the beauty of the Persian hanging gardens or the medieval cloister gardens.


 It is clear that we cannot do without either one of these streams, since one feeds and stimulates the other one.


 We can find a being, in which these polarities are united naturally in superb wisdom and beauty:  it is the honeybee.  In winter, as I mentioned, there is this great 'collecting', 'gathering', its inwardness resting on the absence of outer activity.  It seems to me like a state of meditation, when strength is summoned in extreme quiet and stillness, strength that is released in an incredible feat of diligent work, all focused on sustaining and invigorating nature and our lives.


 In our present time we have such a difficulty practicing compassion and love--egotistical goals lead to exploitation of nature and her four kingdoms-- and at the same time we stumble from one calamity to the other in attempting to create man-made wisdom and beauty in all aspects of culture and agriculture.


 Is it any wonder that the beings in whom these two sides of our existence come together in such a harmonious way, that the honeybees are our mirror for our failures.  At the same time they are an example, and inspiration for how we can solve the problems facing them and us.


 At the present it is the heart-warmed love and compassion that inspires so many all over the world to adopt sustainable beekeeping methods, tending the colonies with ever-deepening understanding and care. And we are so happy and grateful that we can be part of this.

                                                                                                            - Gunther



Upcoming Events in 2011 


Workshop for Beginning Beekeepers - March 19th from 9 am - 12:30 pm.  Floyd, VA.


Queen of the Sun Screening - April 1st in Louisville, KY.  More details to come. 


Queen of the Sun Screening - April 3rd in Cincinnati, OH.  More details to come. 


Toward Saving the Honeybee: Principles of Sustainable & Biodynamic Beekeeping principles & practices - April 30th from 9 am - 4 pm.  Floyd, VA.


Honeybee Festival - May 6 - 8th.  Taking place in Kimberton, PA including a screening of Queen of the Sun, more details to come.


Expanding the Apiary Naturally - May 21st from 9 am - 4 pm.  Swarm management and naturally raised queens.  Floyd, VA.


Workshop & Screening - May 27-28 at the River Valley Waldorf School in Upper Black Eddy, PA.  More details to come. 


Understanding Planetary Rhythms for Seed and Plant Rejuvination - June 5th from 9 am - 4:30 pm at the Josephine Porter Institute, Woolwine, VA.


Winter Preparation, Honey Harvest, Mite Treatment - August 27th from 9 am - 4 pm.  Floyd, VA. 



For more information on any of these events, please email us


In This Issue
Dear Bee Friends
Winter Dreams
2011 Events Calendar
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Floyd, VA 24091

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