Charlotte Pearson lifts the lid on nature’s best kept beauty secret.
Natural cosmetics may be the latest buzzword.
But as Simon Cavill, managing director and founder of Hook-based Bee Good, reveals using honey, beeswax and propolis is not a new thing.
“All three have been used for medicinal purposes for many thousands of years dating back to times even before writing,” Simon reveals.
“For example, Neolithic skulls have been discovered with dental cavities filled with a hard mixture of propolis and beeswax, so it’s a fair assumption that ancient man used these products to treat a wide variety of skin and other conditions.”
In its purest form honey can assist with perfecting, cleansing and protecting the skin and is naturally antibacterial, even Cleopatra was said to have used it as part of her beauty routine.
Beeswax is a natural protector as it creates a barrier on the surface of the skin protecting against bacteria and acting as a natural skin strengthener.
And the last addition to this beauty dream team is propolis, a resinous mixture that honeybees collect from tree buds and other botanical sources.
Rich in flavonoids (antioxidants) it is an extremely powerful antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic wound healing remedy.
“And honey and beeswax don’t go off, as long as you store it properly,” says Simon.
“We are harvesting things now and storing them just in case. We only take the excess and leave enough for the bees for the winter. Bees are very self-sufficient.”
Using other naturally active botanicals and potent plant oils it is no wonder that Bee Good’s products are proving to be such a hit.
But when Simon started keeping bees in 2008 branching out into beauty was not the initial plan.
“I wanted a hobby, to do something interesting and came across beekeeping,” he recalls. “The business all started from our kitchen table.
“After harvesting honey we were left with large quantities of beeswax, and one year my wife Caroline decided to make some hand creams and lip balms as Christmas presents for family and friends and it grew from there.”
Once they received the required certification they started to sell the items online in April this year.
“There are four of us in the company – Rebecca Nichols, marketing director; Toni Sheppard, sales and education director and Glen Jennison, commercial director,” Simon reveals. “I met Rebecca at a Pitching for Management meeting.
“It is a bit like Dragon’s Den but there is an audience that you pitch to. She was working at Liz Earle skincare at the time and introduced me to her colleague Toni and we joined forces.”
Using British bees, and with his own hives, Simon is not only looking at the future of his business but also the future of beekeeping.
“We are utterly dependant on sourcing our core products from our own bees as well as those from other UK Bee Farmers, so clearly it’s in our interest to support British beekeeping generally and bee farmers specifically,” Simon enthuses.
“Therefore we will be donating a percentage of our profits to support both the British Beekeeping Association and UK Bee Farmers Association; specifically to support their Bee Farmers Apprentice scheme.”
He explains that although there are thousands of beekeepers there are only 250 commercial ones.
“You don’t need to have land as some farmers are happy to host hives as they get a better crop and the keepers get better honey,” he adds.
After our chat I get to experience what it is like for Simon as he shows me some hives.
Here I see the bees working, eating and drinking.
It is fascinating to watch and something I could do all day, especially as a fight breaks out and Simon tells me that this is a rogue bee from another colony trying to get some food while being moved on by the guards.
It really is an education as he explains that the worker bees are all female.
The males, known as drones, are for mating with the queen, they die in the process or are expelled from the hive in the autumn.
I am honoured to get to see the queen bee in the hive pushing the workers out the way.
Simon says that a queen can live for two to four years if she keeps laying eggs but once she stops or becomes ill she is chucked out and they raise a new queen.
Sampling their products – vanilla and honey lip balm (£4.75); honey and wild water mint 3-in-1 cleansing water (£10) and honey and crambe daily hand cream (£9) and having seen the bees at work it makes me appreciate the effort that goes into it all the more.
Simon and Caroline in kitchen – picture by Guy Whitmore
For more information or to look at the full range, visit beegood.co.uk
September 24, 2014 Fashion and Beauty