Blog: What’s the Buzz? Bees, Pollinators: Great Resources for Preservation

 

 

I am deeply honored to have the pleasure of interviewing Gunther Hauk again this week. His wisdom, his experience as a biodynamic farming expert and honeybee expert make him one of our true elders.

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary, in Floyd VA, a few years ago. I lived near Culpeper, VA at the time and got up early to make the 5-hour road trip so I could arrive by 9:30 am. After introductions, Gunther, of course, puts all volunteers to work and we got an assignment. We seeded an additional wildflower area for the bees. We harvested weeds for the compost pile, all accomplished in a light misty rain. He hoped for an opportunity for me to experience a swarm, but not that day. We ended the morning with stimulating conversation and lunch.

I felt honored to be a part of their workday. The folks I met deeply cared for and respected the honeybee species in particular but also nature in all its complexity. I recorded my experiences here. Go to my blog post: Beauty and the Bees: https://www.judithdreyer.com/gardens/beauty-and-the-bees/ for more.

Needless to say, I had much to ponder on the ride home. I hoped to capture something of the essence of their efforts through my writing. When the podcast series began I thought of Gunther and I am so grateful for his time and sharing over this past year.

Today though I want to share something about pollinators. Pollinators are more than honeybees. The Polliantor.org site says this:

    • “More than 1,000 of all pollinators are vertebrates such as birds, bats, and small mammals. Most (more than 200,000 species) are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths and bees.
    • In the U.S., pollination produces nearly $20 billion worth of products annually.
    • Monarch butterflies have declined by 90% in the last 20 years.
    • 25% of bumble bees species are thought to be in serious decline.”

I found this great offer from the pollinator.org site. They have planting guides for all types of ecoregional climates. I happen to be in the Eastern Broadleaf Forest area. The guides are colorful with great tables and resource information. I highly recommend them.

What can we do today?

  1. Donate to your favorite nature organization. Support their work. Pick a local one like a land trust and one national. Spikenard Farm and Honey Bee Sanctuary and Pollinator.org rely on donations to continue the great work they are doing. “The Pollinator Partnership’s mission is to promote the health of pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research. Signature initiatives include the NAPPC (North American Pollinator Protection Campaign)National Pollinator Week, and the Ecoregional Planting Guides.”
  2. Buy Heirloom and organic seeds. There are so many great companies, often local, such as Truelove Seeds ( my podcast guest 2 weeks ago) to buy from and support.
  3. Plant pollinator-friendly plants, add more if you can.
  4. Consider replacing lawn with more natural foliage that supports our pollinators. At the Garden’s Gate has a practical chapter on how to do so.
  5. Start a seed saving bank at your local library.
  6. Learn about one new beneficial bug. Learn to properly identify it, its habitat, how it mates, what it needs for food and where it fits in with its local ecosystem. For me, I am going to learn more about praying mantis.

What critter will you choose? Let me know. I enjoy all your comments and stories.

Please share. Thanks again. Judith

Beauty and the Bees

 

 

 

On the top of a hill in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Floyd, VA sits a sanctuary devoted to bringing and allowing bees to function and exist as their nature intended. Gardens grace the land with seven types of hives placed in a circle in the midst of plants that support their needs. Though mist and a gentle rain surrounded the day work continued and I was grateful to be of some help at the Spikenard Farm and Bee Sanctuary.

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit this farm and bee sanctuary recently. Lending a hand where needed I met Gunther and Vivien Hauk, author and the founders of the sanctuary. I also met Jane, Summer and Rick sanctuary staff members. Together we planted an annual garden bed working side by side sowing seeds such as flax, poppy, zinnia, and sunflowers to name a few. Together we lightly hoed to tamp the seeds into the turned earth. It is said that “many hands make light work”. It’s true. We had this area seeded and hoed in no time working cooperatively. Teaching, learning, helping got the job done in a pleasurable way. I couldn’t help but wonder what songs my Native American ancestors would sing while getting the job done!

The intentions of supporting and sharing the healing of the bees and supporting the land were part of my purpose in going. After weeding in the vegetable gardens we broke bread, shared stories. Then Gunther and I walked the property edges. He showed me future plans for expansion all in keeping with the concepts of biodynamic farming and beekeeping.

Before I left we checked on a recent swarm. Beautiful combs were formed on the hive slats. I was in awe of the gentleness and caring he and his

staff showed. Vital, intense, committed to giving to the whole is the dynamic of a hive. It was a pleasure and a privilege to visit this lovely and well cared for ground.

I have mentioned the plight of our honeybees in previous articles and discussed the concept of relationships in some measure. Biodynamic farming builds and enriches the soil. Biodynamic beekeeping cooperates with the natural order of the Hive, maintaining the integrity and health of these beautiful creatures. We can co-create with the resources beneath our feet and share these resources supporting the dynamic of respectful partnership.

I highly recommend 2 documentaries:
Queen of the Sun
Vanishing of the Bees

Also, Gunther and his wife are Waldorf School trained teachers. The Biodynamic way of farming comes from Rudolph Steiner as does this education model. For more information on Rudolph Steiner’s model for teaching and Biodynamic farming methods and philosophy visit the highlighted link.

Spikenard Farm relies on the support and donations of you and I. I ask all of you dear family and friends to consider donating to this worthwhile model.

“Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary
445 Floyd Highway North
Floyd, VA 24091
540-745-2153

For donations in stock please email us atinfo@spikenardfarm.org

All donations are fully tax deductible.

We thank you in advance for your investment in the future of the earth and our life with the bees.”

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Gunther Hauk, All about Bees

Description: Today’s talk is all about bees and pollinators. Gunther Hauk is a world-renowned advocate for bees. Spikenard Farm and Honeybee Sanctuary, in Floyd VA, offers training, classes in beekeeping, seed saving and more. Featured in the documentary, Queen of the Sun, he shares his wisdom, expertise and deep caring for the natural world. I am honored to have him here today and I hope you will be as inspired as I am by his wise counsel. All comments are appreciated.

About My Guest: Gunther Hauk is a retired Waldorf school teacher. He is the founder of Spikenard Farm, Honeybee Sanctuary, located in Floyd, VA. He is also the founder of the Pfeiffer Center in Spring Valley, NY. Both farms operate on biodynamic principles. Gunther is featured in Queen of the Sun documentary where he joins with others highlighting the issues and the grave concerns many have over the honeybee population declines.

Transcript: #51 Gunther Hauk

Blog: What’s in a Handful of Dirt?

 

 

Dirt, soil, the very earth we stand on is capturing the heart and the mind of science.

Scoop up a handful of soil. The dirt you hold in your palms forms the basis of the life around you, from the earthworms crawling in your garden to the raptors hundreds of feet in the air. But soil is not just a lifeless pile of earth. Symbiotic fungi living in plant roots—known as mycorrhiza—help the plants extract vital nutrients. Other microbes break down decaying plants and animals, replenishing the materials used by the plants.”

There is so much we are learning about soil, the intricate, complex and captivating root system and microbe community beneath our feet. Do you garden and have a compost pile? Have you spread out that composted material on garden beds and marveled at the transformation of various materials? While I have tossed kitchen scraps and lawn clippings into a bin it wasn’t until I met the compost kings at several master Gardener demo gardens in VA that I really began to appreciate the process. We often referred to the men who managed the compost bins as our ‘compost kings’, a title they rightly deserved. From managing the bins temperature, receiving garden materials from weeded beds, to turning them over and then doling out, they were true stewards of this precious material. We then had the pleasure of taking this soil and using it in various garden beds. Soil that’s healthy and viable has a rich smell, deep brown color, holds together fairly well. Some call it ‘black gold.’

In today’s world, we have to acknowledge that we have not been good soil stewards. We have lost over one-third of the earth’s topsoil in just 100+ years. tillage farming, mono-crop farming was born from expansion after WWII. Today, family farms are almost an endangered species.

My podcast guest this week, Kimberly Kresevic, Founder of InSoil Health shares a microscopic photo of soil microbes. She brings her microscope out to farms and shows folks, in present time, what is in their soil. Are there enough microbes to indicate the soil is healthy and thriving? If not what can one do to amend that soil, cultivate and /or innoculate the soil to increase viability?

Mycorrhizal fungi act like mediators within this vast underground world. They are traders too. This tree over here wants more of this nutrient, fungi find a supplier and in exchange they receive food. They love carbs and thrive on carbs from plants.

Microbes: are also multifunctional: they help remove essential elements from rocks, keeping those minerals and more into play. They also help to break down organic matter. We know that various forms of decaying matter are rich with nutrients and the decaying process makes them bioavailable.

It is said that one teaspoon of soil contains a million life forms. Pretty incredible and yet we have so much to learn.

What can you do today to protect our soils?

    1. Look closely at your yard. Are there any more natural plantings you can include? Is so, make that a part of your action plan.
    2. For the beginner and novice gardener, consider leaving or cutting weeds down to the roots only. The root systems of these plants support and keep the mycorrhizal network alive and thriving.
    3. Fill in any bare spots. Make that a part of your spring cleanup. Plant an edible shrub if the spot is big enough. Use wildflowers. Add milkweed or other pollinator-friendly plants. Weeds, wildflowers need little to no attention, are drought resistant and build soil and sequester carbon.

We got an electric mower to keep the paths in our garden manageable and at the same time keep the roots intact. We keep the clippings wherever they land. One new act we added last year is now part of our routine. What are your spring plans this year? What can you do to grow more viable, healthy soil?

I appreciate all the comments. Please share. Thanks. Enjoy.

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Kimberly Kresevic,

Description: Our soil is a living organism. As soil science and our understanding of the complexity contained within the soil grows, our models for growing food change and hopefully for the better. My guest this week, Kimberly Kresevic, suggests that we are growing beyond just organic. Soils need to be abundantly healthy with a strong biome in order to give us nutrient dense health sustaining food. Sustainability, regeneration are the operative words for soil health and long term maintenance in agriculture. Whether small backyard farming or large scale agriculture, Kim’s company is changing how we build soil one farm at a time. Join us for a timely and informative discussion.

About My Guest: Kimberley Kresevic is President and Founder of InSoil Health, a data analytics and educational consultancy based out of Northeast Ohio. With diverse experience in both healthcare and biological cultivation, Kim brings a unique systems-based approach to current food production challenges.  Driven by the principle that nutrition is the foundation of human health and vitality, Kim works with growers in all walks of life and at all scales to improve food quality using natural biological techniques. By focusing on soil population data, systems improvement, and the human health value proposition, Kim helps growers invigorate the Soil Foodweb, reduce input costs, and eliminate the toxic environmental effects of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

Transcript:  #50 Kim Kresevic

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