About Us

Meet the Spikenard team and Board of Directors, and learn about our organizational history and mission

Our Mission

Our mission is to promote sustainable and biodynamic beekeeping through education, experience-based research, and a honeybee sanctuary, and to help restore the health and vitality of the honeybee worldwide.

Our Values

Letter From Executive Director Alex Tuchman | July 20, 2021

Dear friends of the honeybee and community members,

The Spikenard Farm team is currently in transition, as we grow from the firm foundation that has been laid by our Founders, Gunther Hauk and Vivian Struve-Hauk. This new period of organizational development calls for a fresh look at who we are and who we want to become in the years ahead as we strive to consciously cultivate a heart-based community of social healing.  While we intend to dive more deeply into this work once the growing season turns towards winter, it feels appropriate at this time to share a sample of the questions that we are currently carrying:

  • How can we continue to develop principles of hospitality and invite others into a consciously cultivated sanctuary—a safe place to heal, connect, learn, and grow?
  • How can we remove barriers and invite diversity into our staff, board, and community?
  • What is the human and ecological history of this land and how can we assist in healing?

How we answer these and other questions will help our team to clarify and communicate our shared values in a unified way. We envision facilitated meetings, trainings, and plenty of time and space for self-development as we move forward together. 

 Thank you in advance for your patience and encouragement in this important work!


Alex Tuchman

Our Journey

Twelve Years In Floyd, VA

Over the past twelve years, Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary has transformed from a pasture on Hideaway Lane to a thriving biodynamic farm which is home to a vibrant flowering landscape, gardens, orchards, camping facilities, a caretaker cabin, a pavilion, and of course, some very happy and healthy honeybee colonies.

Since the first Spring, Spikenard has not wasted a minute towards fulfilling the purpose and mission of education towards saving the honeybee.  At present, hundreds of people–visitors, workshop participants, and school groups–come to Spikenard each year to take part in the wonderful programs that have developed.

For the opportunity to teach and carry forward this important impulse for nature, the bees, and humanity, we are so incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support of friends and donors who have been there with us through this journey.   It is this community of support that has made the development of the Sanctuary that you see in the slideshow below possible.


Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary arrived in Floyd, Virginia in the autumn of 2009 to an open meadow with no buildings or infrastructure on 25 acres, which were originally procured on a 99-year lease.   

Gunther and Vivian arrived on the land with 3 trailers loaded with beehives, chickens, plants, tools, furniture, and farm machinery, and set out to bring their vision into reality, digging and planting the first garden beds with pollinator forage before winter set in.


Spikenard Farm hit the ground running from the very start.  The highlights of the first year included a 5 acre planting of pollinator forage in the bottom fields, the establishment of the orchard and vegetable garden, increased exposure of Gunther’s work through the documentaries “Queen of the Sun” and “Vanishing of the Bees”, and the first 5 workshops on biodynamics, taught in collaboration with the Josephine Porter Institute. 


An open barn, carport, comfort station, and a gazebo were all added to the Sanctuary infrastructure, and the new gates were opened for the first 3-day intensive workshop, which was given under market tents and became the inspiration for the two year Spikenard Biodynamic Beekeeper Training (SBBT).  Gunther also continued to give talks around the area, and traveled the country for screenings of “Queen of the Sun.”


The newly planted orchard and expanding pollinator gardens gave a sigh of relief as the ~7 acre deer fence went up on the top of the hill.  As the first interns joined the expanding Sanctuary and the new gardens and educational programs continued to develop, Spikenard Farm was able to purchase the 25 acre property.  Soon after, a well was dug, electrical service was installed, and a parking area was developed to accommodate visitors.  The first SBBT class was full with 30 attendees who came and inaugurated the first two-year training program.


The development of the Sanctuary infrastructure continued strongly in 2013, with a new hoophouse for growing pollinator plants, the Yurt/Welcome Center being completed and opened up for visitors, and the open-air Pavilion which offered the first teaching space on the grounds.  As the second cohort began their two-year training, we celebrated the graduation of our first SBBT cohort. 


A new bath-house and camping sites were developed, which opened the door for more people to camp at Spikenard Farm during the educational programs, and made it possible to host school groups for overnight field trips.  All 35 beehives made it through the tough winter of 2013/2014.  We constructed a bear-safe platform as a demonstration for bear protection and a gazebo to house our first Sun Hive. 


The construction of the Cabin made it possible to have our Farm Manager move onto the grounds, offering greater care and protection for the bees, land, and infrastructure.  A garden-entry pergola, a wood-fired oven, the Spikenard hive, a new pond for the bees, and tons of new flower beds were built in 2015.  The educational programs continued to expand and develop, with the One Week Intensive drawing many international students to the Sanctuary.  The Friday Open Days filled up with visitors, many school groups and college students came for extended field trips, and we finished and released an educational video, the “Hour of Decision”.


In 2016 we broke ground on the largest infrastructure project to date, the Bee Barn, which is a multi-purpose timber frame building including a beautiful teaching room, a woodshop, a salve-making room, a kitchenette, an office, and storage.  Programs continued to grow strongly with 14 in-person workshops held at the Sanctuary, accounting for hundreds of students coming to learn all about our methods of beekeeping and land care. 


Our educational programs continued to grow, including offerings on Top Bar Beekeeping and building Round Hives and Sun Hives.  We also continued to develop offerings for children in the Floyd community with a 14 week Waldorf early childhood program and a young-adults program in collaboration with Springhouse Community School.  In 2017, we taught our first 6-month online beekeeping webinar, called Foundations of Biodynamic Beekeeping, and Gunther expanded and republished Towards Saving the Honeybee


Our pollinator forage plantings took a big jump forward with a new perennial meadow and a pollinator forest being planted between the Welcome Center and the Bee Barn.  As more and more students graduated the two year SBBT and longed for continued education and training, we inaugurated the Spikenard Mentorship Program and hosted special festivals, including a Festival of Light and a Preparation Making Festival. 


In addition to finishing construction of the Bee Barn and fully moving into the new building, we were also able to purchase 14 additional acres of land, a new greenhouse, and finish installing a large solar panel array to serve our energy needs. 


We started 2020 off with four workshops before coronavirus swept across the country and we moved all of our in-person offerings online.  These online offerings greatly increased our exposure internationally, and the amount of beekeeping consulting through email and phone calls doubled.  The break in in-person offerings gave us the chance to remodel the Yurt and it’s platform, add new products to our product line, and work more closely with local businesses to sell our pollinator plants. 


Although we were able to offer a few in-person events, including Open Days, workshops, and class field-trips, most people connected to us through our online webinars as we continued to extend the reach of our teaching all around the world. Alex’s book A Lively Hive was published in the spring, and a new 5-acre deer fence was erected in the lowerfield allowing for the planting of pollinator hedgerows, perennial meadows, annual flowers, and rows of vegetables. 

Our Team

Here is a brief introduction to our organizational structure and team members.  Like worker bees, we do not simply carry one task, but each of us strives to do all that we can in honor of the whole, within our unique and varied strengths.  Our staff is called upon by the needs of our times to strive forth; to grow, learn, adapt, and change with the seasons and organizational needs.  We endeavor to build a team that works closely together with commitment, respect, and dignity.  Flexible cross-pollination between the office and the farm is the ‘propolis’ that holds us together, and we are so thankful to have gifted individuals on both sides—the blessing that makes our organization thrive!

Alex is a beekeeper, educator, farmer, author, and student of nature.  As the Director of Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary, Alex carries a wide variety of responsibilities on the farm, with the bees, in the classroom, and in administration.   Alex arrived at Spikenard Farm in March of 2014 after three years as the Farm Manager of Loyola University Chicago’s Student Farm in Woodstock, Illinois, his home-state.  Alex is an active contributor to the biodynamic agriculture and natural beekeeping movements and regularly teaches at conferences in the U.S., around the world, and online.  Alex’s book, A Lively Hive, was published in 2021, outlining the basic biodynamic beekeeping methods that we practice and teach at Spikenard Farm.

As Farm Manager, Anthea cares for the Farm by attending to the life in the soil, plant and animal realms, to create an abundant landscape for the honeybees. She guides the daily work of the apprentices which includes tending the bees, the pollinator gardens, herb and vegetable gardens, fields and forest, orchard, greenhouses, and general care of the grounds. She began working at the Sanctuary in 2019, arriving with years of experience on small scale diversified farms and with a degree in Environmental Biology.

Jody came to Spikenard with a background in programming and software training. She is an avid gardener, herbalist and basket weaver with an abiding love of nature. After taking classes at Spikenard, she and her husband are joyfully incorporating honeybees on their small farm.  Jody carries responsibility for many aspects of running the administration, products, programs, website, and social media.

Susan came to us with over 30 years of accounting and business management experience having worked in both large and small local businesses.  She has also lived and worked on her family farm in Floyd all her life and has a deep appreciation for the land and all the creatures on it.  In her role as office assistant, Susan is attending to the important tasks in the office, including the administrative, accounting, and bookkeeping needs of the organization.

Courtney serves in a development role to further the vision of Spikenard Farm through new educational programs, community activities, wellness programs, and a variety of products inspired by and made from natural materials found here at the Sanctuary.  She has been a colleague of Spikenard since 2010 working closely with co-founder Vivian Struve-Hauk on product development, construction projects, and communications.  In her new role, Courtney is building capacity for local and regional outreach and also exploring new partnerships and programs that support humans, pollinators, and the natural world.  Her educational background is rooted in forestry and environmental science, and she has extensive experience in business development, non-profit management, and health & wellness.

Julie Paynotta is a Virginia native, born in Roanoke and educated at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Spending time on her great Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Craig County was a favorite pastime of childhood with many hours spent trying to befriend wild Appaloosas and watching her aunt prepare food from what they grew and raised on site. 

 Many summers spent walking dirt roads, swimming and fishing in SW Virginia creeks and rivers, and hiking in the Blue Ridge were foundational experiences that led to earning a degree in Environmental Science (UVA, 1988). Julie is a published author in the field environmental science research, working on atmospheric transport of pollutants and precipitation chemistry. 

 Fast forward to today, Julie seeks grants for nonprofit organizations as they pursue their missions for social impact through her consulting practice Piñon Grant Solutions. She is slowly pursuing a Master of Public Administration with a nonprofit focus from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and has a Certificate in Grant Writing and Program Evaluation from the School of Public Affairs. 

 Julie lives in Colorado with her husband and two cats, quickly losing teenagers to adulthood. She enjoys live music, hiking the Rockies, and spending time on dirt roads. 

Our Board Of Directors

Kenneth is an attorney representing consumers and serving on the boards of non-profit organizations. His experience in organizational governance helps guide Spikenard Farm in its mission to improve the health of the honeybee and the human community.

Jack has worked in the mental health and disabilities support field since 1971. He has a B.S. degree in Business Management from Babson College and a Masters in Education degree from Virginia Tech. He and his wife, Kamala Bauers, started the company Wall Residences in 1995 to provide intensive supports for people with long-term disabilities in professional family homes. Jack and Kamala are highly involved in the Floyd, Virginia business community. They opened Hotel Floyd in 2007 and are developing Floyd Eco Village to demonstrate sustainable land use practices and zero energy building design. They are also involved in nonprofit work in Floyd through the starting of Partnership for Floyd in 2005 and through support of many other nonprofit organizations in the area. Spikenard Farm is a new passion for him due to the importance and meaning of bees to our local and world ecology.

Gigi is a retired veterinary pharmacologist with a special interest in honey bee pharmacology. She is a long time supporter and student of Spikenard Farm HoneyBee Sanctuary having attended all available workshops since 2015. Gigi is a graduate of the Spikenard Sustainable Biodynamic Beekeeping Training and manages her 70 acre farm and honey bee colonies using Biodynamic methods learned at Spikenard. Her vision for her farm is to establish a Honey Bee Sanctuary and Educational Center in Central North Carolina where persons of all ages can encounter honey bees in a healthy landscape, experience the magic of swarms, and cultivate a deep sense of love and personal responsibility for the honey bee through bee-centered land and pollinator stewardship.

Jaime is an engineer and a devoted urban beekeeper in New York City. He has served as advisor and board member to many non-profit organizations. As the beekeeper of the Brooklyn Waldorf School, he enjoys bringing the children closer to the bees and fostering in them a disposition of love, admiration and respect for this essential creature.

Monica is a clinical nutritionist practicing with her husband, Michael, in Roanoke since 1998. She is an organic gardener and has been growing vegetables and herbs for over 30 years.

Michael is a doctor of chiropractic practicing in Roanoke, VA since 1998. He is a beekeeper and is currently Vice President of the Blue Ridge Beekeeper’s Club. He has been gardening organically for over 30 years.

Alex works with the Board and staff to uphold Spikenard’s mission in service of the honeybees.  As the Director of Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary, Alex carries a wide variety of responsibilities on the farm, with the bees, in the classroom, and in administration.

Bonnie is a Virginia native, business owner, and fourth generation guardian of a c.1897 family farm located in the Shenandoah Valley. A devoted student, supporter, and Sustainable Biodynamic Beekeeping Training graduate, she folds biodynamic and permaculture principles into her daily life and farm practice, is a philanthropist of the sustainability movement, and embraces educational opportunities throughout North and Central America to further her skills in land stewardship and do-it-yourself living. Bonnie’s interests range from beekeeping, fiber arts, and herbalism to fermentation, gardening, and soil regeneration. Through her work and experiences at Spikenard Farm, she has become an advocate for educating and supporting others in an effort to protect and restore the health and vitality of the honeybee.

Our Founders

The vision for Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary first came through Gunther, who had the beekeeping and gardening knowledge and skills to help contribute towards addressing the honeybee crisis, and the gift as a teacher to be able to communicate and share these methods with the world.  However, Gunther could not have shared these gifts without an organizational platform, which was created by the talented support of Vivian, who co-founded Spikenard Farm with him and helped the vision of a safe place for the honeybees to manifest on Earth.  From when Spikenard Farm was first incorporated in 2006 until they moved up to New York in 2020, Gunther and Vivian gave selflessly in service of the honeybees and were the pioneer visionaries who made all of this possible.  May their teachings and creation continue to bloom and grow forevermore!

Gunther Hauk

As Senior Advisor, Gunther continues to serve the organization in many areas, including mission alignment, fundraising, and education. After nearly 20 years as a Waldorf gardening teacher in Germany, Gunther moved to the U.S. in 1996 to co-found the Pfeiffer Center – one of the first biodynamic training programs in the states.  Since that time he has been invited to teach around the world.  His book Toward Saving the Honeybee was first published in 2002.  His work with the bees and as the co-Founder of Spikenard Farm was featured in two full-length documentary films about the honeybee crisis – “Queen of the Sun” (2010) and “Vanishing of the Bees” (2009), and he also produced his own educational film “Hour of Decision” (2015).  Gunther currently lives in New York, where he gardens, keeps bees, and continues to be active in the anthroposophical community. 

Vivian co-founded Spikenard Farm with Gunther in 2006, and served in a variety of roles, including building up the administration, beekeeping, teaching, and infusing the whole of Spikenard Farm with beauty and order.  Born in Chile, Vivian brought strong organizational talent and a broad range of experience as a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, anthroposophical therapist, photographer, gardener, and beekeeper.  Vivian passed away in July 2021.

Get Involved

Learn about apprenticeships, volunteer opportunities, and how to help us make an impact in service of the honeybee

Out Local Community

Learn about open days at our Sanctuary, tours, wellness programs, and our local partnerships

The Honeybee

Learn about the life and wisdom of the honeybee colony and how we can best serve their needs as beekeepers