Right now we keep reading the science about bees going extinct. What are you doing to help the bee population?
Love this question! At BKN, saving the bees is our bottom line. Yes, we work hard to share their hive superfoods with the world, but, in our eyes, the bees always come first.
Somebody has to look out for these little guys. Not only do they single-handedly pollinate ⅓ of our global food supply—yeah, we seriously need them—but they are fascinating, highly sophisticated little creatures.
A lot of people think about bees as mindless drones, but that’s not at all the case. They are actually really intelligent. They use ultra-specific dances to communicate complicated messages to each other. They even have a mathematical intelligence that rivals human toddlers! And, of course, they create some of the world’s most nourishing foods. For so many reasons bees are awesome.
But, you’re right, bees are in trouble. Between climate change, harmful toxins, and widespread habitat loss, bees are dying in huge numbers. Pretty much all across North America, bees are having a hard time finding food that isn’t coated in harmful pesticides. Many farmlands use tons of toxic pesticides that absolutely decimate hives and indiscriminately kill pollinators.
We try to combat this by partnering with only the cleanest small scale apiaries. We give our bees access to pesticide-free plant life and house them in remote locations to minimize exposure to the toxins that are polluting our earth. While we may not be able to control our globally shifting seasons, we can provide a clean habitat and food supply for our bees. And it pays off for us, too. Happy bees make the absolute best propolis! We also partner with some fantastic bee related charitable organizations - UC Davis Bee Research Facility and The Canadian Bee Research Fund.
How can we donate and help save bees in our daily lives?
A lot of people don’t realize that what they buy at the grocery store really matters. When you’re filling up your cart, it’s crucial to make sure every item aligns with an ethos you can stand behind, because you are literally putting your money where your mouth is. To support bees, that means buying organic and pesticide free as often as you can, buying raw honey products, and looking for brands that prioritize sustainability.
Another easy way to make a real impact on your local bee population is to plant a bee garden. Bees need access to clean food, so providing our pollinators with organic, untreated plant life to feast on is one of the best ways to help. And if you make sure that something is always in bloom—whether it is spring, summer, or fall—you’re ensuring that the bees have clean food to feast on year-round! It also helps to build a bee bath, so that bees have fresh water nearby—yes, bees need water, too! Just do a little research to make sure your plant choices and bath-design are truly pollinator-friendly.
Beyond your yard, taking action against pesticides is critically important. Write in to your local government, stop using them on your lawn asap, and check in to the many different organizations that support bees. We work closely with UC Davis Bee Research and the Canadian Bee Research Fund, but there are a number of other organizations doing great things. You can donate to our partner charities directly here and here. We also give 10% of the profits from our “Save the Bees” apparel to our charity partners, if you want to rock the cause.
Tell us more about the power of propolis…
Propolis is a health essential for me, especially during cold and flu season! I call it nature’s ultimate defender. Bees make propolis from plant and tree resins and use it to protect their hive from bacteria, fungi, and viruses. While honey is used as a bee’s food, you can think of propolis as their medicine or the foundations of the hive’s immune system.
The bees actually line the entire hive with propolis, including the cells of newborn bees in order to create a germ-free environment. They even have a propolis mat at the front door to ensure no one drags nasty germs into the hive. For the bees, propolis keeps them healthy. And for humans, it has many of the same effects.
One of my favorite things about propolis is its rich healing history. Aristotle is thought to have coined the term ‘propolis’, which means defender of the city. Hippocrates was a big fan. Even Cleopatra used it. The first recorded human use of propolis actually dates back to 300 BC.
For me, propolis is my favorite way to get an immune boost and speed up my recovery time if I’m feeling sick. It’s antiviral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, loaded with antioxidants, and contains over 300 beneficial compounds. There is a ton of good research out there confirming the natural immune-boosting effects of propolis, and it really does work. As someone who grew with up constant sore throats and colds, propolis has been a game-changer for my overall health. And it is actually the single superfood that got me involved with the bees in the first place.
Where did your love of bees begin?
I’ve always been obsessed with nature, insects, and animals, but I really developed my love for bees after falling for all the amazing products they make.
As a college student, I struggled with recurring tonsillitis. On my semester abroad in Europe it got particularly bad. I am allergic to most antibiotics so, without a cure in sight, I was on the cusp of cutting my trip short and flying home for surgery. Desperate for a natural cure, I was given a bottle of propolis by an Italian pharmacist. I really had no idea what it was and I was skeptical, especially after years of buying in to the latest and greatest superfood fads only to wind up disappointed by a lack of results. But, desperate to solve my health problem, I gave it a shot.
After one week of propolis, I was amazed that it actually worked! The propolis had taken down the inflammation and soothed the soreness, and I was on the path to recovery—sans side effects. I was able to fully recuperate and complete my time in Europe feeling healthier than ever.
When I returned home, I couldn’t find this magical healer at the local health food store, so I began beekeeping to ensure I never had to go propolis-free again (years of strep, tonsillitis, and a weak immune system will do that to you). Once I started spending time around hives, I was hooked. I began learning about the unique benefits of the different bee products, using royal jelly for a mental boost or fresh bee pollen to get my vitamins.
Even more, I started exploring and understanding the integral role the bees play on our planet. I was fascinated with the fact that they make up the pillars of our ecosystem and blown away by the intricate societies they form. Today that fascination has developed into a serious love affair.
What is the most beautiful thing about bees?
I find the way the bees all work together for the collective good to be so beautiful. In the hive everyone has a job, from a nurse bee to a forager. Each of the ladies contributes to the betterment and survival of the hive. I could go into more detail about all of the specific tasks and practices that go on in the hive, but I would probably rant on for 3 pages! Bees are so amazing!
What are the benefits of raw honey that most people don’t know?
Raw honey is an amazing beauty food. It is rich in antioxidants and contains around 27 minerals and 5,000 enzymes, which means it promotes beauty and wellness from the inside out. I also do raw honey face masks with our B.Powered superfood honey once a week. Beyond beauty, my favourite honey hack is using it optimize my sleep.
Honey works on two levels to give you a killer night of shut-eye. First, a small teaspoon before bed stimulates the release of tryptophan in the brain—you know, the amino acid that promotes sleep after Thanksgiving turkey. There, it is converted into serotonin, which, in the darkness, is then converted to melatonin, a well-known sleep aid. Raw honey also helps to stock glycogen levels in the liver, which prevents your body from waking up before your alarm clock in a crisis search for fuel.
These days, I do a teaspoon of our B.Chill hemp honey every night before bed and sleep like a baby.
You have a large variety of honey products. Can you tell us about the difference between them? How can we navigate the products and buy for our health?
Bees make much more than honey! At BKN, we like to go beyond honey, working with powerful hive superfoods like propolis, bee pollen, and royal jelly. Most people in North America are only familiar with honey, but cultures around the world have used these ingredients for their beneficial properties for centuries.
- First, propolis, which is generally associated with immunity. Propolis is collected by bees from plant and tree resins. In the hive, propolis functions as the bees’ immune system. It lines the inside of the hive and is used to protect the hive from bacteria, parasites, and viruses. For example, if a mouse gets inside the hive, the bees will sting it to death, then actually mummify it with propolis to prevent any viruses or bacteria on the decaying mouse from infecting the rest of the hive (gross, but also amazing!). In our bodies, propolis has a similar effect of boosting immune function and keeping unwelcomed viruses and bacteria at bay. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory, which is why our Propolis Throat Spray is the perfect fix for a sore throat.
- Bees also make royal jelly, which I like to think of as a brain-boosting longevity elixir. As the ultimate hive superfood, it’s used to feed all baby bees and is the exclusive food source of the queen. Royal jelly contains high amounts of protein, lipids, vitamins, enzymes, and minerals—and its nutrient density has not been replicated by science. For humans, nutrient-rich royal jelly is great for naturally supporting improved memory, concentration, and focus, which is why we use royal jelly in our natural nootropic, B.LXR.
- Bee pollen is an excellent protein source for both humans and bees. If you can believe it, bee pollen contains more protein per gram than most animal sources! And because it's full of free-forming amino acids, it’s a protein source that is really easy for your body to digest and absorb, making it great for athletes fueling up both pre- and post-workout. We blend bee pollen into our Bee Powered raw honey, along with royal jelly and propolis, so you can reap the benefits of the full spectrum of hive superfoods in one sweet spoonful!
- Another exciting product that we just launched is B.Chill hemp honey. We blended high potency hemp oil and MCT oil with our raw honey to create the ultimate formula for crushing stress and anxiety as well as supporting quality sleep. I am so excited by the health benefits of CBDs and love that they work really synergistically with our enzymatic raw honey.
What are your top 3 beauty products?
- Bee Powered for face masks — Our Bee Powered is a nourishing blend of all the hive superfoods: royal jelly, propolis, raw honey, and bee pollen. While I have always taken a spoonful of it daily, I’ve heard that Cleopatra used bee products topically to get her glow on. Given the incredible anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, enzymes, and vitamins found in these superfoods, I figured I would test it out. Lo and behold, 15 minutes with Bee Powered on my face left my skin soft, clear, and glowing! Now I do it once every week!
- Kopari coconut oil – I cover my hair and skin in this. I also often spray in some propolis to kick up the protective moisturizing effects.
- Mother Dirt face wash – I have super sensitive skin and need to be careful with cleansers, but also realize how important good bacteria are to skin health. Mother Dirt cleaner is super gentle, doesn’t dry or strip my skin, and leaves the skin microbiome intact.
What does your self-care routine look like?
I work all the time and am often traveling, which makes balance a constant struggle. Because of this, I’ve tried to build self-care into my daily routine. I start every day with meditation and I love using the Muse Brain Sensing Headband. This may be the most type A approach to mindfulness, but being able to chart my progress and see the way I’m teaching my brain to be less reactive keeps me motivated to stay on track. I also start my days by jotting down 3 gratitudes and end my day with 3 things I am thankful for. I also believe that food is medicine and try to keep my diet clean and full of plant-based ingredients.
Can you share a favorite recipe with us that uses honey?
There are two recipes that I can't get enough of these day. One of them is chocolate avocado mousse made with our Raw Cacao Honey. The other is my fav green smoothie. Here are the recipes:
Raw Cacao Honey + Avocado Mousse
In a blender combine:
- 1 full avocado
- ¼ cup raw cacao
- 3 tbsp raw cacao honey
- 1/3 cup cashews
- pinch Himalayan salt
- almond milk to blend (add a small amount to keep it thick and decadent or add more if you want more of a smoothie)
The Beegan’s Green Smoothie
- 1 handful of kale and/or spinach
- 1/2 a banana
- 5 sprays propolis
- 1 tsp wildflower honey
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds⠀
- 1 Tbsp spirulina⠀
- 1 tsp Bee Powered⠀
- 1 tsp pollen to top it off
Sip and enjoy!
Who or what is your greatest inspiration?
I am so inspired by my team. As Beekeeper’s Naturals grows, we have been so fortunate to find an incredibly talented, diverse group of people who care deeply about our customers, products, and social impact. Their enthusiasm, creativity, and good vibes are what keep me excited and fueled to keep working hard and sharing our mission. Together, we really are like a hive, with all these amazing, dedicated people working together towards a collective goal. I am so grateful.
What can we look forward to in the next few months with your line of honey products?
We just launched our new B.Chill Hemp Honey! I’m so excited about the health benefits of CBD, and combining that with enzymatic raw honey and pure MCT oil makes the ultimate calming tool! We had a ton of customers ask us to formulate something to help them fight off stress and anxiety and, after a year of hard work, testing, and going back to the drawing board, we finally created the perfect tool to take the edge off. This honey is non-psychoactive, meaning you won’t get any of those trippy feels, but you will get all the soothing effects you need to ease anxiety, fight inflammation, and combat pain naturally. We offer it in jars, but we also put it in these awesome old-school honey sticks, so you can take your zen on-the-go.
Moving on, our game plan is to continue listening to our customers to provide sustainable natural solutions that are effective, plant-based, and hive-derived. From memory-boosting royal jelly nootropics to beautifying Bee Powered honey to our Propolis Throat Spray, we are constantly building upon our beegan pharmacy, talking with our customers, and working to deliver naturally-sourced, obsessively-tested hive superfoods! And, of course, we’ll keep working tirelessly to #SaveTheBees!