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!
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.