"…like the transformation in the human soul itself…
we are also faced with a great inner transformation in nature."
Rudolf Steiner “Agriculture”, p. 40
Transformation always comprises a certain amount of chaos and crisis, opening up new, unknown territories and leaving old, well-established ones behind. Globally we can experience the rumblings of transformation in all aspects of our lives. As we experienced a barrage of negative news of all the natural and man-made catastrophes these past months, these were balanced out by the power and beauty of this spring. We can say that we were deeply touched. Each flower seemed to call out to us that it comes from the cosmos (The Greek word ‘Kosmos’ means an ordered, beautiful, harmonious whole), not from the substances of the earth. Cosmos and Earth are united in mystical marriage in May. Guess what! We are already tasting the sweet fruits of this union.
“ ...It was as if heaven had gently kissed the earth
So now she had to dream of Him in the glory of its blooms...”
By Joseph v. Eichendorff
The largest swarm we have ever seen!
The intensity of this experience was mirrored by the development of our honeybee colonies. Never before had we had so much sweet and joyous work with swarms! Even the 40+ stings Vivian received once when we caught a huge swarm, were taken as a blessing!
Experiencing a swarm reminds us of death and rebirth: the swarm bees with the old queen leave their body, i.e. their honeycomb, in order to build up a new one in another location. Nothing parallels the joyous diligence of a swarm; once it has a new home and can create its new ‘body’. Watch a small child at play–– tireless, inventive, fully present and focused–– and you find the same intensity and joyous seriousness.
So far we caught 11 swarms, nearly all of them from our own bees. We feel blessed that in our sanctuary we can let the bees live out their natural instinct, from which they receive so much strength and health. It is a joy to give them a beautiful new home. Then, for a few weeks, they receive a gift of a delicious tea (*see THE BEES NEEDS for the recipe) with our own honey, all in support of aiding their health and immune system.
Swarm in our backyard, 30 feet high.
Swarms love Evergreens!
Each new colony gets a name, our attention and in merely a few weeks they are a well-established colony, almost ‘grown-ups’. The entire process certainly lets us feel like having babies.
April-June definitely are intense months for the beekeeper! In April the true surplus of honey was taken, left over from their winter stores. The honey has matured in the colony’s care and warmth and we happily share/sell this important healing gift of theirs.
The Honeybee Sanctuary
The apiary grew rapidly this year and we are experimenting with different hive shapes (Warré, top bar and Venus hive). The results of our biodynamic treatments to support the bees’ immune system have been promising so far. The recent nuclear catastrophe in Japan reminded me of my experience after the Chernobyl melt-down. The biodynamic farms in Germany experienced a milder attack of radiation and a quicker recovery with an intense use of the BD preparations. The bees, with their extreme sensitivity to environmental damages, desperately need our additional care and help with these healing preparations.
Much time and care has been given to beautifully landscape the sanctuary. Platforms were created for the seven hives set up in a sacred seven-pointed star formation, a Gazebo was built for the Venus Hive.
And the perennial flower garden with mostly medicinal plants has been expanded and soon will be fenced to protect from deer and other predators.
Screening of the Queen of the Sun.
The 2 films where Spikenard Farm is featured, “Queen of the Sun” and “Vanishing of the Bees”, are both touring the country successfully, reaping all kinds of honors. Gunther has attended 10 screenings of “Queen of the Sun” in different cities so far and is always touched by the heart-warming reception. A big “Thank You” to all for organizing these events!
These last few months we have been able to attend several film screenings, conduct fundraising trips as well as give successful workshops in Floyd, Christiansburg, Charlottesville and Warm Springs, Virginia; Austin and Houston, Texas; Louisville, Kentucky; Cincinnati, Ohio; Phoenixville, and Upper Black Eddie, Pennsylvania. A deep satisfaction arises from the fact that in so many cities, new “sustainable/biodynamic beekeeping clubs” form as a fruit of these workshops.
Workshop - Expanding the Apiary Naturally
Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary on the Floyd Artisan Trail Tour.
The Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary team
Together with our board and development staff, we are creating revenue streams, as well as moving ahead on all the preparatory work for a Capital Campaign.
Selecting a building site, getting bids from excavators, checking into building codes etc. is all part of this effort. We are very fortunate to count on the help of very talented board members, of friends and co-workers. Our relationships here in Floyd are growing stronger, and we experience daily that this is a true community: a helping hand, a good conversation, a good piece of advice. “Sustain Floyd”, a young not-for-profit organization, is growing and moving ahead quickly, and we are considering ways to partner toward the common goal of sustainability.
We have so much to be grateful for:
▪ the continuous financial support from individuals and foundations of our work with and for the bees
▪ the unconditional help of our neighbors at the farm and our home and office
▪ the enthusiastic work of our current summer intern Connor
▪ the outstanding artistic craftsmanship of our neighbor who has built several structures at the sanctuary
▪ the people helping with the office and outreach
▪ friends that drive 2 + hours to help in the garden
▪ all the people who express their own gratitude for our work of building up and carrying the honeybee sanctuary, of helping to change beekeeping methods
▪ and all the wonderful helpers who came to our Volunteer Saturdays
With your help we trust that we will continue to create a safe haven for the honeybee with all the necessary infrastructure. Establishing such a sacred space is not only important for the honeybee herself, but gives us the practical basis for reaching out to many people, for educating young and old about the real needs of this insect and showing tangible ways into the future. After all, the honeybee is absolutely essential for our further life on earth.
We are so grateful for all we have been able to accomplish these past few years, carried by your gifts and warmth. So we kindly ask you again for your generous contribution.
In ever-deepening appreciation for your interest and care, we send you our warmest greetings along with best wishes for a beautiful, productive and rewarding summer.
Gunther and Vivian
Notice the center bee is excreting wax platelets!
The Bees Needs
Recipe for Bee Tea
To support and stimulate a well-functioning metabolic process, herb tea with a bit of honey should be given. For feeding, i.e. building up packages, nucs and splits, or for the fall feeding, if winter supplies are not sufficient, the honey content should be tripled so that the bees don’t have to work so much evaporating the water content of the tea.
For a basic tea recipe, the ingredients should be as listed, but if you don’t have them all, at least the first three most important ones--- chamomile, yarrow and stinging nettle--- should be used. They are part of the biodynamic compost preparation plants as indicated by Rudolf Steiner. The Biodynamic Beekeeping Practices include other plants and preparations, but for the most part the ones listed are the most important and helpful.
German chamomile, yarrow, stinging nettle, dandelion flowers, hyssop, rue, thyme, sage, peppermint, lemon balm, anise hyssop.
Here is how you do it:
Bring 2 quarts of good water to a boil, take off stove and add:
3 tsp. each of: chamomile, yarrow, stinging nettle, dandelion flowers, peppermint,
2 tsp. each of: sage, hyssop, thyme, anise hyssop, and lemon balm
1/4 tsp. rue
Let steep for 10 minutes.
Strain through a cloth, add two additional quarts of water and let cool enough (about 100 F) to mix in one pound of local honey. For building up the colonies, mix in three pounds of honey. If you have to use sugar (we don’t recommend it), add at least 5-10% good honey and a good pinch of salt (no iodine!) The brand “RealSalt” is good, with lots of mineral content. Whatever you don’t use right away needs to be refrigerated.
For building up a swarm, nuc, split or package, you feed daily for ~ 2 weeks or as long as needed. If you have a strong hive and lots of forage you may only need a couple of days. Observation is very important: if the tea sits for days and is not taken by the bees, then either they don’t need it or the tea has turned sour (this happens quickly during the summer).
General strengthening: One pint of the tea per month, starting in February/March.
You will have healthy, happy and high-spirited bees!
July 21-23 Intensive 3-day course.
In this course we will combine the 4 workshops we give during the year for people who would like to, but can't travel to Floyd three or four times in one year. There will be lots of hands-on experience. For more information, please contact Vivian firstname.lastname@example.org or call
us at 540-745-2153. The course is limited to 15 people and a few spots are still open.
August 27 Workshop Honey Harvest, Mite Treatments, Winter Preparation
Honeybee Sactuary - Floyd, VA
October 14-16 Bioneers Conference
Gunther was invited to speak at the conference in San Rafael, CA "Colony Collapse Disorder, A Call for Revising Beekeeping Practices and Our Relationship to Bees"
The bees are happy with the early-flowering asters
Before you go, don't forget to BEEfriend us at any of the following unBEElievable sites!