I started beekeeping as a hobby and now work with bees two days a week ("day Job" is working in medical research). It is just me but I do sometimes get help from my Daughter, Freya (she's eight in the picture).
I nearly didn't start beekeeping as a neighbour didn't want bees nearby (allergy) so I put a card in the village shop in Hambleden (near Henley) to see if any local landowner would to host a hive. I had a couple of responses and started with two colonies.
I then had people approach me asking to site hives and I now have around 30 hives around the South Chilterns, mainly around the Hambleden/Frieth.
There are several "races" of bees (sub-species). Apis melifera melifera is our native Northern European species but many beekeepers import foreign species (which isn't great for our native bee and is also a problem in regard to disease spreading). ALL my bees have been raised in the Chiltern Hills and bred by myself, open mated locally, ensuring that our local population of Honey Bee is supported.
I am a member of the British Beekeepers Association and High Wycombe Bee Keepers Association.
If you are reading this and thinking bee keeping sounds interesting, please don't go and buy a hive and bees. First contact your local Beekeeping Association who will help you, they run training courses every spring. But go for it! It's hard work but incredibly rewarding.
If you look at the ingredients list on most cosmetic products you find a vast number of different, low cost, artificial ingredients, to make the products cheap to produce and probably not that great for you. We aim to turn this on it’s head
Widely regarded as an excellent base for cosmetics, but not widely used due to cost. For example, bees will use ~9Kg of honey to generate ~1Kg of wax (find a jar of honey and do the maths!). Also, bees only produce wax when they need to, it is a rare and expensive natural commodity. But beeswax cosmetics are produced by some niche providers who (in most cases) buy-in the wax.
Where beeswax is sold it is often imported, wax can be mixed with other fats/oils. We only use our own pure beeswax. We can tell which hives it came from using the product batch code matched with hive records in order to determine providence.
A bee hive is essentially two compartments. At the bottom the Brood Box houses The Queen, eggs, larvae etc. Above this sits the Super Box which contains the super (honeycomb) frames. The queen is prevented from going into the supers by a Queen Excluder (she is larger) unlike the workers.
Wax in the brood box absorbs propolis, pollen, bits of cocoon and other detritus. The wax is usually biscuit brown through to black in colour depending on impurities. We use this to make candles.
In contrast, the super (honey) comb only holds honey and is has far less contaminants. Once the honey comb cells are full bees seal them with wax caps. These cappings are near white in colour, the purest form of raw beeswax.
Our cosmetic products are made from cappings only, these are melted and filtered five times for purity. Although great for quality, this means low product volume so we will probably run out of our base ingredient some time around the end of the year.
As this wax is of such high quality, we are able to make products that are probably unlike anything found elsewhere. We also have a range called “Naked Bee” which contains the absolute minimum ingredients to support our ethos of natural simplicity and providence. For example, Naked Bee lip balm only contains three ingredients; Olive Oil, Beeswax and Shea butter, yet is still a fantastic lip balm.
Many ingredients used in cosmetics are potentially dangerous if used above defined concentrations, similarly allergen labelling is important.
All our cosmetic products are produced in accordance with cosmetic standards which includes:
- Formulation ensuring ingredients are within allowed concentrations
- Products undergo stability testing for at least three months under five different conditions
- Products are independently assessed for safety
- All wax used in cosmetics undergo independent laboratory analyses to determine any microbial content
- Dossier (Product Information File) is submitted and filed on the Cosmetic Product Notification Portal.
- Allergens are defined on the product labels