Learn how to develop a sanctuary and support the honeybees by planting pollinator forage in your area
Flowers & Forage Principles At Spikenard Farm
Planting healthy sources of nectar and pollen for the bees and taking care of the land through biodynamic agricultural and gardening practices is just as essential to our work at Spikenard Farm as the life-giving beekeeping practices that we offer to our bees. A clean, biodiverse, abundantly blooming landscape that is free of harmful chemicals is ideal for supporting the health and vitality of the honeybees. Every healthy flower gives essential nourishment and helps continue to develop our world into a safer place for the honeybees and native pollinators to live.
We plant flowers with high quality nutritional value. Nectar and pollen are both a food and a medicine which the bees rely on for their health. By planting and propagating medicinal flowers, such as dandelion, sage, echinacea, lavender, etc., we give the bees access to a rich medicine cabinet that serves their needs for micronutrients, metabolic health, immune support, and well-being. Even just small amounts of these healing herbs increase the medicinal qualities of the honey and the bee bread and enhance the overall health of the hive through the year.
We plant flowers in large quantities. The bees gather from the abundant nectar sources as it flows in spring, summer, and fall in order to build their comb and store plenty of food for keeping warm and well-fed through the year. For good stores of honey, planting orchards, groves, hedgerows, and flowering fields can play an important role in augmenting the abundance given freely by the natural environment. Trees, such as tulip poplar, black locust, basswood, and apple, are especially valued in Virginia due to the efficiency of bees being able to fill up their “saddle-bags” and honey stomach in the flowering canopy of a single mature tree. We also plant flowers in our bottomland fields, favoring clover in established fields, and annuals such as buckwheat and yellow mustard, which are planted in June so that they flower in the “summer hole” of July, where no other large quantities of nectar and pollen are found in nature.
We plant flowers in great diversity. Planting flowers in great diversity helps to serve the natural diversity of pollinators who are also supported in our sanctuary ecosystem. Specific flowers serve specific pollinators and the benefits ripple throughout the ecosystem. We plant diverse flowers and celebrate each different flower blooming at a different time of the year and giving unique nutritional and medicinal value to the greater insect world. We strive to have something blooming through the whole growing season here in Virginia (from February – November), so that the bees and pollinators may always have something available to gather.
We encourage the wildflowers to bloom. Roadside ditches, field edges, steep slopes, and other areas on the fringes of human land-use are the easiest places to promote wildflowers to grow. Wildflowers are essential for pollinators to thrive, and promoting them can be as simple as spreading seeds in the Fall in the places that are otherwise not being tended. Goldenrod, wingstem, thistle, milkweed, mullein, staghorn sumac, ironweed, and many other wildflowers are wonderful companions for the pollinators. With these plants, simply encouraging them to flower and be pollinated creates a positive feedback loop of growing abundance. Observe and enjoy more and more flowers each season, and help by spreading the seeds!
We encourage flowers in our mowed lawn. Simply raising the mowing bar two inches higher can provide a huge source of forage for the bees! White dutch clover, broadleaf plantain, narrowleaf plantain, and dandelion are all prevalent in the mowed lawns of North America, and very easy to guide towards giving up to four blooms per year by simply adjusting our mowing techniques. We let the first bloom go until roughly 2/3 of the flowers have bloomed and gone to seed before mowing again on the 4’’ setting of our riding mower. This clips off the dead flowers and allows for a new flush of blossoms to emerge. Meanwhile, you are spreading more seeds! Wait and repeat.
We care for our land with biodynamic practices. Feeding the soil life and the plant life with high quality compost and biodynamic preparations are central to supporting the health and vitality of the honeybees, the pollinators, and the whole sanctuary ecosystem. Seeing the farm as a whole organism is the wider perspective that helps to bring balance and harmony to all of the inter-related parts. Clean soil, water, air, and forage are all essential for the pollinators to thrive. Because the pollinators are incredibly sensitive to toxins and chemicals, they can be seen as an indicator species whose state of health is often a direct indication of local environmental health. By supporting and caring for the land with biodynamic principles and practices, we continue to strive to create a sanctuary of healing for all life.
What's In Bloom At Spikenard Farm?
Original Images by Spikenard Farm & Honeybee Sanctuary | March-May 2021
Land Care Reading List and Online Resources
|Pollinator Plant Lists||Spikenard Bee Forage Plants
Ecoregional Planting Guides
Native Plant Finder
Honeybee Forage Map
|Xerces Society||“Attracting Native Pollinators”
“Farming with Native Beneficial Insects”
“Gardening for Butterflies”
|Pollinator Partnership||Pollinator Partnership|
|Flower Seeds and Growing Information||Prairie Moon Nursery
Strictly Medicinal Seeds
J.L. Hudson, Seedsman
High Mowing Organic Seeds
Turtle Tree Seeds
|Nancy Bubel||“The New Seed-Starters Handbook”|
|Suzanne Ashworth||“Seed to Seed”|
|Douglas Tallamy||“Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native
|Bill Mollison||“Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual”|
|Ann Larkin Hansen||“The Organic Farming Manual”|
|Elliot Coleman||“The New Organic Grower”|
|J. Russell Smith||“Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture”|
|Mark Shepard||“Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers”|
|Deb Soule||“How to Move Like a Gardener”
“The Healing Garden”
|Ehrenfried Pfeiffer||“How to Grow a Garden and be Self-sufficient” “An Introduction to Biodynamics”
“Bio-Dynamic Gardening & Farming” Volume 1-2-3
|Manfred Klett||“Biodynamic Agriculture”
“Principles of Biodynamic Spray and Compost Preparations”
|Maria Thun||“Gardening for Life—the biodynamic way”
“Results from the Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar”
“Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar”
|Ernst Michael Kranich||“Planetary Influences on Plants”|
|Sherry Wildfeuer||“Stella Natura Biodynamic Planting Calendar”|
|Biodynamic Demeter Alliance (BDA)||Biodynamics Association|