Fall 2011, Issue No. 12 In This Issue Giving Thanks Facing Changes The Honeybee Sactuary Update on CCD Outlook New Webpage & Products Giving T

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Fall 2011, Issue No. 12


In This Issue

Giving Thanks
Facing Changes
The Honeybee Sactuary
Update on CCD
New Webpage & Products

Giving Thanks

Dear Friends,

In this season of giving thanks for all of the bounty, beauty, and goodness that nature has given us anew this year, we also wish to express our deep gratitude for all of you who have contributed to our ability to move forward in our work with and for the honeybees. With your continued support we are able to fulfill our mission to spread and teach sustainable/biodynamic beekeeping methods. We trust and hope that our efforts contribute to saving this precious being.

Our fall has been absolutely gorgeous this year. With the hills blazing in rich colors, we are reminded of the fact that the summer's warmth and light have given themselves to us. We are ever grateful for being spared from hurricanes, floods, and snowstorms! Besides being filled with deep gratitude, we are aware that the gifts we receive need to be balanced out by our own gifts given back to mother nature and all her beings. Let us not forget the mother! The time has passed when we, like children, just take––– and take for granted what we receive.

Facing Changes


All of us are painfully aware of how the changes in weather patterns, climate conditions (political as well as natural), cultural discord, and economic realities are storming in on us. However, we are reminded that, on a more subtle level, these changes have been coming for a while.

This past spring and summer we observed subtle changes. One moved us to ponder and ask the question: why was only one of the 11 swarms that we gathered this year hanging higher than 5 feet above the ground? The bees usually look for high spots to collect in a swarm cluster. We heard that others had similar experiences. Could the nuclear catastrophe in Japan or the drastically rising frequency of earthquakes be related to this?

We get quite a few "youtube" clips that point to the phenomenon of changing behavior in the animal realm (elk saving a small animal from drowning in a barrel, deer swimming up to a boat to be rescued). We wonder if a new interspecies tenderness is evolving.

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When driving to the sanctuary, we pass a poultry farm and every day we saw one single cow grazing on the hill. We could not avoid feeling pity for her being alone; cows are herd animals.

One day, to our surprise, we saw a chicken with her and for the next weeks we kept seeing this same scene every day: cow grazing––chicken picking; cow walking––chicken walking behind; cow lying––chicken lying. It filled us with joy: the cow was not alone anymore.

What is going on, a chicken leaving her flock to hang around with a cow? Sure, she found plenty of delicious things to pick, but it was more than that. It is clear to us: in addition to our earthly climate, the human soul and nature in totality are changing.

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The Honeybee Sanctuary

This year we had our first swarm already in mid-April—two weeks earlier than expected. Later, we said a special "Thank You!" to the huge swarm that came into the sanctuary on the day, in May, that we had our Swarm Workshop.

We can say that this year was a "good" year for our bees, even though they had to go through a long, two-month, drought. The white clover kept blooming, but it didn't have the "juiciness", nectar and pollen, available like last year. As such, the usual building up of wax comb and honey reserves was at a much slower pace. A help, indeed, were the 4 acres of forage we had planted (buckwheat, sunflowers, mustard) and the beautifully flowering perennial garden. Fortunately, the rains came and the bees profited from a rich offering of fall nectar and pollen––just another reason to give thanks. We only had to feed a few hives that hadn't made enough stores for winter. See our recipe online http://www.spikenardfarm.org/beekeeping_tips.html.

Our colonies are just about ready for braving the winter: entrance reducers are in place, food stores have been checked, and superfluous, empty hive bodies have been removed. The hives exposed most to the northwest winds will be wrapped in straw and plastic (to keep the straw dry).

In respect to varroa mites we have to say that we saw a lot more than last year and had to treat some of the hives with formic acid and thymol late summer in order to take the mite-pressure off. Some of our hives are not treated at all so that we can select from very robust colonies to increase our apiary.

Fortunately, we continue to keep bees without losses to CCD or foulbrood.


Update on CCD

Many people ask if the bees are coming back since they don't hear much about Colony Collapse disorder in the news any more. The official USDA data shows that this past winter (up to April) the losses continued to be just over 30%. This is highly precarious for our food security in general and unsustainable, at best, for professional beekeepers. Further, 31% of the interviewed beekeepers lost colonies to CCD.

In my opinion, the precarious situation of the bees has not changed. Beekeeping has become difficult: the bees’ needs are great. This calls for ever more flexibility, especially when facing drastic climatic events like droughts, storms, flooding and earthquakes.


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We were very busy this summer and fall and a more detailed report on our educational activities, "Queen of the Sun" screenings, tutorial video, the development of the sanctuary, as well as on the first phase of the capital campaign (launched in October) will come in our next newsletter in early December.

Our webpage has been renewed!!! We have had received a lot of positive feedback for the changes. Visit the new site by going to http://www.spikenardfarm.org/
Our on-line store will soon be ready.
Our T-shirts and our Healing Bee Tea mixture, made with organic and biodynamic herbs are now available for purchase!

For our tea recipe go to http://www.spikenardfarm.org/beekeeping_tips.html

To purchase a T-shirt or our Healing Bee Tea, send us an email to info@spikenardfarm.org with the items you are interested in and your shipping address and we will give you a quote and gladly send it your way.

Your purchase supports our ongoing work!


Organic T-shirt: $23-28 depending on size, plus shipping and handling. Made by Green Label Organics


Biodynamic Healing Bee Tea. Email us for prices!



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We love them, they allow us to continue the work and help us cover webpage, social networking, marketing & outreach expenses.

You can donate online or send us a check (445 Floyd Highway North, Floyd, VA 24091); in case of stock transfer, please contact us info@spikenardfarm.org.

Have a wonderful Giving-Thanks-Holiday, and know that we appreciate your gifts very much,

Vivian & Gunther


Before you go, don't forget to BEEfriend us at any of the following unBEElievable sites!

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