My husband and I have been beekeepers for nearly a decade and have had some success in getting honey, but very little in keeping bees. In fact, our desires and outlooks for beekeeping clashed and eventually we both almost gave up due to lack of shared vision and our inability to keep bees in our hives. Some died. Most left.
This year we decided to commit to attending all 3 weekends of Principles and Practices of Biodynamic Beekeeping. After just one weekend we have connected so deeply with a shared vision of not only how to best support the bees but also how best to make our land even more rich and beautiful and welcoming for pollinators.
There are so many good things to share about how Gunter, Vivian, and Alex teach and connect with each person in the course that I'm not sure I can say even a small portion of them. They are clear, approachable, reverent, dedicated, and willing to connect and to answer questions. They all know Steiner's work deeply and practice the principles daily.
So much gratitude. If you can go, GO!
Wonderful program run by incredibly knowledgeable, welcoming, and wise teachers! This organization is doing important work not only in beekeeping, but also in environmental education.
I traveled from New Hampshire to Virginia to enroll in Spikenard's beginner beekeeping course as an introduction to Biodynamic Beekeeping. Being a Honey Bee Biology teacher in our club Bee School, adult education course teacher on honey bees, and area lecturer on Honey Bee Family Dynamics to the general public, I was looking for an example of teaching a very complex subject to novices. Alex did not disappoint. The elegance in his presentations added to the mood that Alex, Vivian & Gunter created for learning in each session. It was an experience I hope to try and implement in my own teaching. The weather was very poor yet we went out into the gardens to see the beehives. The garden plan reflected a thoughtful, integrated environment of health for living things, the placement and diversity of hives were also in harmony with some recently published scientific studies on apiary layout. I was beyond impressed and hope to make my way back to Spikenard for more insights into Biodynamic Beekeeping in the future.
The inspirational people at Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary have a deep understanding about the needs of the vanishing bees. We learned many bee-keeping practices that will help the bees flourish and protect these pollinators for future generations. The bee conference was a great balance of inspiration and down-to-earth practicality.
Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary is a place (and a movement) I am deeply thankful for. For anyone who cares deeply about the Earth, and humanity, and the survival of the Honeybee, Spikenard is THE place to get to know and to support. I have gotten to take many of their incredible classes, which gave me not just know-how, but also such useful experience to be helpful on this mission to save the bees and our ecosystems. And not only is it a place to come and learn, it is also a true and real sanctuary for the bees, plants, and animals, filled with health and vitality that give hope and renewal to all
who come and visit.
Spikenard Farm and Bee Sanctuary is dedicated to the research and education of all things related to the honeybee through the loving application of biodynamic principles. This ensures the optimal health and well being of not just the bees but also of the surrounding natural and human environment. It is truly a special place with special people - both staff and students alike.
I have been a part of a lot the educational programs that are offered at Spikenard and have enjoyed volunteering on Fridays when I can to help out in the gardens for the past 3-4 years years. I have never been disappointed. The quality classes that are offered at Spikenard are top notch! These workshops have taught me so much. I am truly forever grateful to have learned from Gunther, Alex, and Vivian. They are world renowned teachers in their field and am looking forward to going back to learning more from them.
I attended the Continuing Educational Retreat for Waldorf Teachers and Parents in the summer of 2018. I stayed overnight at the Sanctuary as a camper while I attended the workshop. The workshop really did far exceed my expectations: it was well organized, and the material was presented clearly and understandably. I learned much more than I thought possible in the short time frame of the conference. We were also given an opportunity to work directly with the bees, which was an amazing experience. What was impressive to me was the fine balance Spikenard was able to strike between giving us the opportunity to work with the bees while also respecting the needs of the hive. The group atmosphere fostered by the workshop was incredible. I made some good friends from all over the world. My experience camping was also pleasant. The campsite was surprisingly cool even in the middle of the summer (it was like magic!), the bunk house (bathroom, showers, place to store food and make tea) was clean and fresh. In short, I have been recommending Spikenard since my time there, and I will continue to do so. My experience there was quite special, and I hope that many others have the opportunity to spend quality time with the bees.
Spikenard is a dream come true! As more education is focused on bringing lessons from our earth and the special task of the honeybee weaving together life, Spikenard is a pioneer in making that happen. The experience there will enrich any farmer/gardener/beekeeper or educator's understanding of our individual responsibility toward the honeybee. There are some teachers whose wisdom rings clear into your soul and the teachers at Spikenard all carry and share that. A seminar or workshop there is not to be missed. You will hold gratitude for it long after.
I have been taking classes at Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary for the past 3 years. I am a active beekeeper and learning their teachings has dramatically improved my understanding of the honey bee and made me a much more confident bee keeper!
The course in Biodynamics was well beyond my expectations. Alex and Gunter shared their immense knowledge from both their minds and their hearts. The course was thoughtfully planned out with a great balance of classroom and hands on experiences. It was a rich and rewarding course. Not only did I gain knowledge and understanding of biodynamic practices, but I felt I had a spiritual experience.
I just finished a four all-day-class program on beekeeping at this gorgeous sanctuary and it made me want to live there. The love and respect for, and deep knowledge of, bees is evident everywhere. The teaching was focused and competent, as well as lively and imbued with humor. I learned a lot and had a good time doing it. I cannot think of a learning experience I could recommend more highly- it was perfect.
Thank you for all you have done.
I feel profoundly changed from my experience at Spikenard Bee Sanctuary. Your deep understanding of the needs of bees has significantly changed my management of bees and will strongly influence the manner I choose to bring the teaching of bee-keeping to my students and community.
I believe the approach employed by the Spikenard Sanctuary is probably the best in the world. I do hope I can return from Australia to Floyd next summer for a follow-up training.
Michael Rowland. Tasmania Australia.
I attended a four-day workshop about Waldorf Schools and the honeybee. Everything about the time there was fabulous: Most important, the people were knowledgeable, kind, gentle, and generous of time, material and spirit; the sanctuary was imbued with a sense of peace, generosity and productivity, because of the bees and the people who care for them; the bees were amazing; the learning environment was safe, open and fertile, allowing participants to exchange ideas freely and productively and to experience unmediated the purpose of the place; the course was well thought-out and organized; the campgrounds were easy to use, with a bathroom and kitchen nearby; the interns were happy and joyful; there was ease and flexibility about the entire event. I highly recommend this group — my feeling was that any money going towards Spikenard would be used efficiently and to its maximum potential, nothing wasted. Thanks!
If you want to become the type of beekeeper that aims to understand the nature of bees and works with them in a way that is respectful to all, then go to Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary. See these loving custodians and their bees in action and learn from them the very natural flow of biodynamic beekeeping. Their practices are simple and they teach them so patiently - ask them anything and you will receive the most thoughtful answers and advice.
Before taking their Principles and Practices of Biodynamic Beekeeping, my previous training can best be described as fear based. The biodynamic way is a much needed breath of fresh air - it is fearless and nourishing.
If you want to learn the best practices for working with bees from open minded, kind hearted experts, then go to Spikenard Farm. When you do go, even if you already a heart full of love and gratitude, make some room, you're about to get more!
Our Beekeeping class at Spikenard was all we hoped for and more. We experienced excellent organization, high level expertise, quality materials, appropriate breaks, and gracious and authentic teachers and staff. It was a wonderful experience in every way.
Thanks so much.
Remarkable workshop!!! So much consciousness in how the information was shared, the hands-on activities executed, and the food served! The rhythmical way in which the theory was alternated with practical activities was very nourishing.
Rudolf Steiner, through the incredible wisdom behind each biodynamic preparation, sheds some light into what is hidden in nature, a little inkling into a mysterious and fascinating world. And the resulting preparations help strengthen the soil, plants and animals (and ultimately ourselves).
The stirring of the preparations in a bucket of water, stirring in one direction and creating a vortex, and then producing chaos by stirring in the other direction, brought forth some spontaneous songs and dances by some of the participants, which enriched the overall feeling of fraternity already there.
If I could, I will give this workshop many more stars.
Gunther, Vivian and Alex form an unbeatable team!!!
I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend at the bee farm. Alex and Gunther were very informative, and their talks were easily understandable. They also answered all questions that we had. Also, had a great time making the preps! I plan to make my own next year. I had read some books on biodynamics, so I was familiar with it; but the hands on experience was well worth coming to the class. Thank you! Roger Walker
I recently took part in a one week beekeeping course at Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary. What a gift!
Clearly the honeybees are at the heart of the Sanctuary team's work, but this is a place where ALL life is respected, and guided to thrive. It's a place bursting with life and vitality. A place I left feeling inspired, hopeful, and engaged with a strong commitment to take action to do my part in contributing to the honeybee's well being.
The three teachers were exceptional: seeing them interacting with the bees with such respect, skill and grace was magical. They were extremely informative, practical, and have a underlying holistic view of the bees which makes the content of what they were teaching so meaningful. Their joy and humour was contagious.
Their work is so essential. It is vital. And incredibly beautiful. For the bees, and for us all.
My class at Spikenard was an unforgettable combination of wonderful information, inspiring hands-on work, and the company of caring and devoted teachers and class members. The facilities are wonderful, and the peace and beauty of the sanctuary is deeply renewing. I would recommend any of their programs and look forward to visiting again soon.
The wonderful team at Spikenard shared so much of the Honeybee Sanctuary and themselves with us that leaving was bittersweet. We were so excited to go forth and put into practice the principles and new skills we learned, but we also wanted to stay to spend more time with the bees. The logistics of camping, eating, daily schedule were exquisitely attended to (lovely camp spots, very clean & welcoming bathhouses/facilities; fresh, local and prepared with love lunches and snacks that fueled us through the day; and a daily balance of work, learning & time to reflect. The information shared is invaluable - from honeybees, to beekeeping to biodynamic farming...they not only shared their knowledge in the classroom, but also gave us daily hands-on experiences with the bees and in the gardens. We look forward to returning to experience another session in the future.
I took a one week dee keeping and biodynamic class taught by the wonderful people at Spikenard. Each day we had lectures by thoughtful and knowledgable staff on all aspects of beekeeping, bees, and biodynamics. We experienced the sanctuary in an intimate way. We visited hives and examined the internal life of the bee in its hive. we captured and installed 2 swarms during our stay. We did hands on activities to understand biodynamic techniques and preparations to enliven the soil of the farm. We were provided wonderful lunches prepared by the staff that were simple and wonderful. Fresh bread, soup, main dish and desert were served each day. I cannot speak highly enough about my experience and what I was able to learn in my time at the sanctuary. This is a very special place that I encourage any person interested in learning about what they can to do help our environment and bees to attend.
We attended a beekeeping and gardening workshop/retreat at the Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary in May 2017. The experience greatly exceeded our expectations. The grounds and facilities are beautifully maintained. We were warmly welcomed by all of the staff and interns. The creative learning/working environment is nourishing and uplifting. The (yummy) meals and snacks are made with ingredients fresh from the gardens. The mission of this organization is near and dear to our hearts - and we are so grateful for the work they are doing for the bees and the earth.
2017 will be the sixth year I have either taken courses, or volunteered, or done both at Spikenard Farm. I am a beekeeper, and I find that keeping in touch with Spikenard via classes and volunteer opportunities has deepened especially my spiritual awareness of the honeybee, changed my approach to beekeeping, and brought best beekeeping practices into my home community.
The deep integrity that characterizes Spikenard's approach is the touchstone of its practices. Strange as it may sound, this integrity begins with a pure love for the honeybee, which is freely shared with visitors; this is the base from which all its research and education arises.
Using a scientific approach to discern what is best for the honeybee, and in addition exploring the spiritual relationships between the bee, humans and other beings, and the environment from deepest soil to farthest space, creates a holism within which we learn our wholeness as humans and gives us lessons in approaching the world of creatures with humility, respect and gratitude.
In addition, Spikenard Farm is a place where human relationships based on care and service to others bloom quietly like the hidden blossoms of herbs patiently awaiting their hour to give healthful nourishment to the bee and receive the vitality of life in return. The worth of all these relationships is incalculable and may explain the fervent support for this non-profit among beekeepers, lovers of nature and biodynamic gardening enthusiasts.
As a student I experienced a wonderful balance between classroom and field experience, as well as information being taught to us while information was also free to come forth from anyone present. It is not just a sanctuary for the honeybee (although they are so happy there!) but also for the human soul and our very important connection with nature now. Help the future of the honeybee, of earth, and of the human being by contributing today.
Spikenard Farm is both a gorgeous sanctuary tucked away in the Blue ridge mountains and an agricultural school par excellence. The grounds are immaculate - the love and care that go into tending the plants and the bees clearly shows. My wife and I were there for a weekend workshop on biodynamic beekeeping, and the instruction exceeded our expectations. In addition to instruction, the farm provides starter plants and beekeeping supplies (as well as bees!) to those new to the biodynamic farming approach. To our pleasant surprise, attendees can also choose to camp on the property, and there is a clean and very functional bathhouse, with two separate facilities including shower, mini-fridge, and other amenities to make car camping a real pleasure. At the time we visited, the bee 'barn' was nearing completion, with just electrical, lighting, and interior finishing left to do. Contributions to help them finish this would be money well spent, as the 'barn' is really laid out as more of a teaching and research space, and it is beautifully designed. If you have the chance to visit and/or donate, please do, you won't regret it.
I attended a class at Spikenard and was impressed by their wonderful farm and inspired by their genuine love for and devotion to the bees. The class was informative and the hands-on activities and demonstrations added to the experience. Loved the class, the sanctuary, the people and the bees!
The people at Spikenard are truly dedicated to bees, the Earth, and people! Their passion is incredibly inspiring and it certainly rubbed off on our group as we spent time serving Spikenard and assisting them in their mission!!
I have gained so much from my experience at Spikenard, it is truly an amazing place. Through my experience I have not only gained a deeper knowledge of biodynamic methods in beekeeping and gardening, but learned to see the world, especially the natural world, in a different way. The place they have created and the intentions and initiative they carry are a gift to the world.
When my son was four years old, we had an opportunity to join a small group of farm-schooled teenagers from northern Virginia who were in Floyd County to visit Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary. Prior to this visit, my son was extremely scared of any insect with wings (including the common gnat). He would become hysterical when a bee or wasp flew near to him. Our visit, in particular sitting down in the shade near the hives with Gunter and the other students, changed my son's perspective on this interesting part of nature and really cured him of his fears of flying insects. Gunter told my son exactly what he needed to do - be calm, quiet and slow when a bee or wasp came near him. Later, when my son offered to the group what he knew about wasps being aggressive, he was strengthened in his knowing as Gunter confirmed with a gentle, wise and honest humor: Yes, you are sure to be stung if you poke a big stick in a hornet's nest, so don't do that. There is something very magical about Gunter and his way, Vivian and her way, and everyone I've met working and volunteering at Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary. Since that first visit, I have become an aspiring biodynamic gardener, we as a family are learning the methods taught at Spikenard for setting up an apiary and are overjoyed that both our hives survived our first winter together . My son who is now 7 joins us when we visits the bees and feels safe in his bee hood. He takes great care and responsibility to button everything up and tuck everything in so no bees get trapped in his clothes. We have come so far since that first visit and are eternally grateful to the spirit and wonderful people that sustain Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary with their love and hard work. A visit or workshop will surely change your life.
Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary is a true local treasure. In a time when our world is dominated by chemicals and for profit motivations it is so refreshing to visit with the good folks of Spikenard. If honey bees are to survive it will take a re-thinking of all aspects of our relationship to the environment. This farm is a living example of how to begin this re-thinking. Thank you Gunter for all you bring to the current discussion of honeybee culture and our culture as a whole.
Spikenard Farm is a treasure. Every time I visit or attend a class I leave inspired and renewed. My first visit was in 2013 for a beekeeping class. I had been searching for many years to find a more holistic way to keep bees and I found what I was looking for at Spikenard Farm. Gunther and Vivian care deeply about the world and bees are their insight into how the natural world functions. They are able to explain concepts and methods in a very understandable way and make you feel like part of the family in the process. I can't wait to go back.
Great non profit organization teaching individuals of all walks of life about essentials of life, ecology and encouraged me to look at the world in a more
I cannot say enough positive things about the spikenard honeybee sanctuary and the people that work there so hard to make it possible! These people, Gunter, Alex, Vivian, and others work so hard each and every day to help teach others about the importance of the preservation of the honeybee, and what they do to better our lives not only as beekeepers, but stewards of life. Without the dedicated people and sanctuaries like spikenard, the honeybee would be in far worse shape today. I highly recommend a visit, workshop, or a simple donation! Much respect, love, and joy for Spikenard sanctuary!
The renewal of my spirit and awakening of my senses in this magical place with the Spikenard mentors were unexpected and priceless gifts. I wish everyone I know could find the time to experience a Spikenard class. It is life changing for the humans that visit, but most importantly, life saving for the honeybees who are loved and protected by this unique sanctuary.