Jun 10, 2019

Humanely Breeding Healthy Bees

Dear Friends,

At Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary, we honor the gifts that the bees give us through their health and vitality, rather than greedily striving to get all that we can from the bees at the expense of their health.  This is the central change in attitude that makes our land a true Sanctuary for the bees, and has been the foundation for our bees to thrive while bees across the world are still being exploited in the name of productivity.  

But what the bees give us when they are healthy and well cared for: honey, propolis, wax, pollination, formic acid... These are all products of healing that serve humanity.  By serving the bees, we need not worry that we will not be served.  Service is the nature of the honeybee colony. 

The greatest expression of health and vitality in a beehive is the swarm -- the natural reproductive capacity wherein one colony creates another.  This rebirth, this swarm, is a remarkable phenomenon that inspires awe and wonder in the observer.  For us at the Sanctuary, we celebrate these swarms, and help to guide these new colonies into their new bodies--into a new hive.  

Thus, we have established a natural breeding program that serves the instincts of the bees and honors their health and vitality through allowing their natural reproductive processes to furnish our Sanctuary, and our community of beekeepers, with both new true queens (not artificially raised) and natural swarms (not artificial splits or packages).  Because the carrying capacity of our land is ~25 hives, each year we have an abundance of new colonies that need new homes.  By giving these to responsible beekeepers, we spread our strong, acclimatized, and localized stock into the community to help ensure the future of healthy bees in our region and beyond. 

This breeding program, and all of the educational support that surrounds it, forms the crux of our service to the honeybee.  We are so grateful to have you with us on this journey, and are always so very thankful for your contributions and participation.




Feb 19, 2019

Building Spikenard's Capacity

Dear Friends,

Akin to the great gifts that 2018 gave us in terms of expanding our on-farm educational programs, in 2019 we are staying true to the core of our mission by extending our outreach into the world.  We are now called to engage more actively with a wider audience and bring the message of healing our relationship to the bees and the earth to ever larger circles.  There are a number of ways in which we plan to do this, and we need your support to make it happen!  The activities that will spread the message of Spikenard further in 2019:

-Teaching a 6-month webinar course called Foundations of Biodynamic Beekeeping which already has people signed up from 7 different countries and all across North America.  For people that can't make it to the Sanctuary but who are serious about beekeeping, this is a great place to learn our methods and join a cohort of other beekeepers from around the globe who are taking up sustainable biodynamic beekeeping.  In partnership with the Biodynamic Association.

-Continuing to publish articles, and coming out with a new book on Spikenard methods of beekeeping.

-Building collaborations with national and international organizations with like-minded missions who we can collaborate with in promoting solutions to the honeybee crisis.  We are scheduled to speak already at several major agricultural and beekeeping conferences in 2019, including the Virginia Association for Biological Farming Conference, The Biodynamic Conference 2019 in Lake George, Master Gardeners Symposium, and more.

-Teaching about beekeeping, supporting native pollinators, gardening and pedagogy at different Waldorf schools across the country, in partnership with AWSNA.  Part of our educational mission is to help schools bring more awareness of the honeybees onto campus, into curriculum, and into the wider community.  Planting forage for the bees is a great way to start transforming campus and ‘setting the table’ for the honeybees to begin a relationship with the students.  Offering advice and helping to assess the possibilities for honeybee forage, native pollinator forage and housing sites, and bringing honeybee hives to different schools are all initiatives that we can help with.  Giving talks and lectures to all ages of the student body, as well as to teachers, parents, staff, and other local interested parties are all often part of our school visits. 

All this outreach activity means that we are taking on more work, and we are therefore in a phase of capacity building wherein we are growing our staff to fit the growth of the organizations impact.  This year we are already in the process of hiring 2 staff and 4 interns:

-Biodynamic Farmer-Gardener, Full Time Year Round

-Marketing and Outreach, Part Time Year Round

-And 4 new interns who will come to work, and learn along with us for three month durations.

These positions will help to free myself (Alex) up quite a bit from the day-to-day farm responsibilities so that more of his and the other Co-Directors (Gunther and Vivian) efforts can be channeled toward the important expansion of our message to our greater audience.  This, we hope, will also serve to bring more people to eventually come to the Sancutary to witness the devoted work for the honeybees and the beautiful flowering landscape first-hand.

Sending deep gratitude to all of you, and please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.



Nov 21, 2018

End of Year Report and Outreach

Dear friends,

We sometimes stop in our tracks, look around and wonder whether we are dreaming. Nine years ago, we arrived in Floyd to this hilly land with a pasture surrounded by an old fence. The work started right away and what we see now is astonishing: a beautiful landscape, lush trees, gardens, flowers and bees everywhere. Incredible timber-frame structures done with excellent craftsmanship, elegance and beauty touch all who enter them. We are happy and proud to be able to teach, gather and work here in this beautiful place. The honeybees teach us on a daily basis that we have to change our thinking, our attitude, to start caring for the natural world as the very basis for culture and for our existence. We are committed to continue inspiring and serving many generations to come.

Small and large miracles––and so many generous donors––all came together to make this dream possible, not only to continue, but also to deepen and expand the work for the bees, for the Earth and for our communal future at this challenging time. Warm, profound gratitude rays out from our hearts to all who contributed to this accomplishment!

Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary is thrilled and honored to contribute to the 100-year anniversary of Waldorf education. One of the themes for this celebration is the introduction of the honeybees and pollinator plants into the curriculum and onto school grounds.  With support and encouragement from AWSNA, we started an education program for teachers and parents this past July, and will offer this again in 2019.

Gunther’s travels brought him this year to a number of Waldorf Schools, where he gave talks and workshops to students, faculty and parents: the Waldorf Schools in Richmond, Maine, Washington and North Carolina

Alex traveled to Hot Springs, VA where he gave beekeeping & biodynamic workshops at the Virginia Association for Biological Farming Conference; to Critz, VA to give a keynote at the Patrick County Master Gardeners Symposium; to South Carolina to give a campus-wide address at Wofford College; to Maine to teach in Deb Soule’s biodynamic training at Avena Botanicals; and to the Biodynamic Conference in Portland where he offered a pre-conference workshop on beekeeping.

Our “Friday Open Days” have been very busy this year; visitors come from all over the USA and beyond to learn about the bees and enjoy the peaceful scenery, the flowers and pollinator gardens. This Fall, we were delighted to host The Garden Club of America for their annual meeting: how wonderful it was to have so many (~80) enthusiastic gardeners and flower lovers visit the Sanctuary! Spikenard was honored with the Zone VII Conservation Commendation Award. The recognition of the work that Spikenard has accomplished deeply touched our hearts.

As we look back on another productive and growth-filled season, there are many wonderful accomplishments to celebrate, like our increased educational offerings, a new pollinator forest for the bees, and much more. But without doubt, the major accomplishment of 2018 was the completion of our Capital Campaign. We reached our fundraising goal of $797,000 which allowed us to finish the incredible Bee Barn, the Caretaker’s cottage, and expand our acreage. This all truly lays the foundation for Spikenard to thrive and grow into the future. The joy and gratitude for all this is immense! 

Now, looking forward, we have to direct our attention to expand our team, so that the growing needs for Spikenard can be fulfilled. Capacity building and a stronger outreach work will be our main focus. We are looking forward to special individuals who will join us in carrying Spikenard into the future. More than ever, we rely on your participation to warmly support this venture as we close 2018 and look towards the necessary expansion of our work in 2019.

Thanks in advance for your generosity and support!

With gratitude and warm regards,



WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.