Monday, May 01, 2006

Bees and the Varroa Mite
(this post is definitely not for pharma-agribusiness enthusiasts (they don't believe in the effect of the cosmos on animals and plants)

The other day we bought comb honey at the Milltown farmer's market and were told it might be the last one available. The hives have succumbed to the deadly varroa mite which is destroying bees across Europe since the 1970's.

Rather than talking about a 'virus' or 'infectious disease' we might consider that mites have been able to take hold because the host has become weak. Chemical spraying and artificial fertilizing is affecting plants and so the health of the bees that harvest from them.

Luckily, two towering innovators foresaw today's depletion of natural resources and brought help. Rudolf Steiner gave a course to farmers and gardeners in 1924, now available as the book Agriculture and subsequently Nine Lectures on Bees (The Permaculture Earth Repair Catalogue lists further books.) Maria Thun has studied plant and animal life and their relationship to the moon and planets for over fifty years. Her findings were obtained by practical experiment and her crowning achievement is her Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar which she brings out each year with her son Matthias Thun. She is a storehouse of knowledge on the care of bees, both in their hives and in their surroundings.

In the current calendar she mentions the varroa mite problem and recommends a course of action based on Rudolf Steiner's advice to farmers. "Following a number of comparative trials we recommend burning and making an ash of the varroa mite in the usual way...take 50 or 60 specimens and burn them in a wood fire during the appropriate planetary aspect (this year, with sun and moon both in Taurus in May, from midnight on the 26th to 10 pm on the 28th). The resulting mixture of wood and pest ash should then be 'dynamized' by grinding it in a mortar for an hour." One gram of the mixture is then added to nine grams water in a closed bottle and dynamized in the homeopathic manner by shaking it vigorously for three minutes (D1). Then again one gram of the dynamized substance is mixed with nine grams water; the process repeated seven times until you have a D8 potency. Thun says: "This potency has been found to exhibit an inhibiting effect on the reproductive capacity of the pest when applied as a fine mist for three evenings in succession."

This may not work perfectly in the first season, but as Steiner points out in his Agriculture, lecture 6, when talking about nematodes: "Now it is necessary to perform this operation when the Sun is in the sign of Taurus. (If need be, you can keep the insect and burn it when the time comes)...People are unaware what a specialised thing the Sun is. The Sun is not really the same when in the course of a year or a day it shines on to the Earth from Taurus, or from Cancer, or the other constellations...if you prepare your can spread it out over the beet fields, and the nematode will by and by grow faint--a faintness you will certainly find very effective after the fourth year. For by that time the nematode can no longer live. It shuns life if it has to live in an earth thus peppered."

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