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!
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.
Going to the beginner seminar for beekeeping was a great experience for me. I really love their methodology with the bees and their way of looking at our planet. I really felt that by the end of the day I had grown as a human being and I am so excited about helping the earth by keeping bees. I had a million questions and every one was answered clearly and with patience. I look forward to doing more classes at Spikenard one day and will remember the day I spent with them fondly and with gratitude.
I am relatively new to the area and interested in developing a self-sustaining life style to include gardens, orchards, vineyards and the bees to support the required pollination, not to mention the honey. I attended their introductory course which provided lots of confidence-building information and insight into the project. The staff and their farm are a treasure trove of resources for the beginner. I look forward to attending their top bar class later in the month.
Attended a one-day workshop held in the beginning of March. Both my husband and I are very new to beekeeping, and the speakers were incredibly good, approachable, and made the day very much worthwhile. The content went into much greater detail than I expected (and was very happy for the level of detail, particularly when addressing questions). They covered one particular type of hive to walk us through the course, but explained why and how other hives can be used, along with general pros/cons to consider. The tour was phenomenal, particularly in seeing how different hive types are used and maintained. Overall, a wonderful and informative group!