A theme with variations

|   Botanik, Ökologie, Landschaft

Johannes Wirz

For years, my everyday work at the Research Institute has been characterised by projects, (too) many seminars, a lot of paperwork and administrative work. Still, it resembles a beautiful composition with a theme and all kinds of variations. I would like to report on a few completely new ones.


A consulting assignment unexpectedly turned into a project. After more than 20 years of practicing beekeeing, ever since spring 2019 I have also been looking after forest bee colonies up to seven metres high. Together with Roger Zimmermann, head of the Dorneckberg forestry operation, and I would like to find out whether and how colonies live and survive in an almost completely natural environment. Every visit is an adventure - on bad days on the shaky ladder it's almost a nightmare; on good days accompanied by the happiness of being directly connected to the origins of the relationship between man and bees, I am happy about my long experience. No honeycombs can be removed from the tree hollows for inspection so I learn to assess the well-being of the colonies by the behaviour of the bees and I read the health at the edges of the combs. The extreme 2019 bee year has produced a sobering result: without feeding, all newly formed colonies would have starved to death in the summer.

Course in Riga

In August I went to a conference with anthroposophical friends near Riga. Besides a workshop on sacred-healing bee substances with practical instructions on how to make a propolis tincture and the basis for the Apis preparation, which is highly appreciated by many, I told about "The land where milk and honey flow". I was drawn almost magically to the preparation for the "Butterfly Cycle"of lectures by Rudolf Steiner. Many of us are familiar with this phenomenon: You read a lecture cycle countless times and suddenly you discover a peculiarity that you had missed for years. The lectures are like living beings and their content grows inside the reader through self-development.

I delved into the spiritual meaning of the cow, the birds, the bees and other pollinating insects, which according to Rudolf Steiner have taken on a task: To bring earthly things back into the cosmos! Actually, man should have taken that over but he was not able to do so.

During my studies it became immediately clear to me: with these lectures, Steiner had esoterically presented what he exoterically explained about these animals a year later at Whitsun, 1924, in the agricultural course in Koberwitz. Whether my understanding is correct on all points remains to be seen. But the certainty with which the inner relationship between the two lecture cycles revealed itself to me is "rock solid".


I am not only active in Dornach but also work at the Fischermühle in Rosenfeld for Mellifera e.V. There I took on a task in the last year of work which had been rejected by my colleagues in the past. With Norbert Poeplau (as a competent editor), I started to write twelve monthly reviews for 2020 for the biggest bee magazine in Germany "bienen & natur". The topic is one of my lifetime favourites and a favourite pastime: Beekeeping according to the nature of the bees.

I was warned that I would be exposed to a shitstorm but when will I ever get the opportunity again to bring biodynamic beekeeping to the breadth of conventional beekeeping? My motto is: once the reputation is ruined, it will live on unashamedly...

The collaboration with the editor is extremely time-consuming, because she approaches our texts without a trace of anthroposophical background. The first article, with a beautiful blackboard drawing by Rudolf Steiner and a somewhat unknown photo of the topping-out ceremony of the first Goetheanum, was published in January 2020. Now the editor not only wants to start beekeeping according to the Demeter beekeeping guidelines but has even registered for the winter seminar on beekeeping at the Fischermühle.

Log hive