The Buzz about Beekeeper’s Naturals
It’s that time of the year again… Runny noses. Screaming children with sticky hands. Picking up friends and family from airports that you are pretty sure to have the plague. Nothing says holidays like inviting to your home for a week at least three different carriers of an unknown disease, each possessing a more contagious symptom than the last. You have the CDC’s number just in case, right?
No amount of cold medicine seems to keep it bay once it sets in after you have that first sniff of cold, that first tickle of an itchy throat. By the time you’re into your third mug of hot cocoa, it’s already too late. The doom is upon you.
The good news is, while you may not get away completely unscathed by the merciless wrath of nature, you can give in to nature instead, through the power of bees. The power of bees? I already am dealing with the plague, why does there have to be bees, too? Well, bees make honey, but they also make this gunky stuff called propolis.
As you can see, bee propolis is some seriously awesome stuff. Just ask Carly and Daniel. These two don’t just make an absolutely awesome propolis spray, but also tirelessly work to preserve our declining North American bee population.
Meet Carly and Daniel of Beekeeper’s Naturals. Thanks for taking a little bee-t out of your bee-sy l-hives for us today. I had to get all the bee puns out right at the start, I hope you’ll forgive me. Continuing on…
My first few questions are for Carly. Can you tell us a little about how you first learned about the magic behind bee propolis? How did you turn that experience into Beekeeper’s Naturals?
Firstly, thank you so much for taking the time to interview us. We are bee-lighted to talk about bees, propolis, and health with you (the puns never get old!). I first learned about propolis during a university semester abroad. Growing up with an autoimmune disorder, antibiotics have never been an option.
After spending months gallivanting around Europe and developing a particularly nasty case of tonsillitis, my only option with traditional antibiotics out of the question was to come home and have surgery…kind of a buzz kill for my euro trip. Needless to say, I was desperately looking for a natural and safe alternative to cure my inflamed tonsils, which led to my wandering into a pharmacy in Italy where the pharmacist recommended I give a substance that I had never heard of (bee propolis!) a try.
I shelled out the euros and within two weeks of taking propolis, I was a believer! My inflammation was drastically reduced, my scratchy throat soothed and I was finally beginning to regain my voice. After a few more weeks of propolis dosing and some much-needed rest, I was able to stay in Europe to finish my trip!
If you can imagine growing up with a weak immune system and an aversion to most types of medicine, finding something that worked and didn’t cause any crazy adverse reaction was a game changer for me.
As I continued my trip, I noticed that propolis was very common in most European countries and almost as prevalent on health food and pharmacy store shelves as Advil is in North America.
When I returned home to wrap up my final year of university, I brought my propolis fascination with me. Unfortunately, after checking all of the local health food stores, I was unable to find any propolis products. I decided to go straight to the source and contact some local beekeepers…and so began my journey into the world of bees.
I started beekeeping and making propolis myself, then for friends and eventually, I had random people coming up to me asking if they can buy my cold or sore throat medicine. It was at that point that I realized I was on to something. Propolis worked so well for me and knowing that others are always looking for more natural and effective alternatives, I wanted to share propolis with the rest of the world.
What Was Your a-hah Moment Where You Knew It Was Bees-or-nothing?
My a-hah moment came the very first time I opened a hive box. I was in a large (mens) bee suit (a generous donation from an older beekeeper friend) which was about 5 sizes too big and I was absolutely terrified to go near the hives, let alone take the roof off their house and look inside. But once I did, I was amazed by their intricacy.
Every individual in the thousands of bees that make up a colony has a unique role to play in the successful functioning of the community, creating a complex utilitarian society. Invigorated with the rush from facing my fears of being stung, combined with complete curiosity and interest in how these creatures operate had me hooked!
Let’s talk bees and beehives. What was your most challenging moment? Since you were technically working with wild animals, did at any point did you feel like you might accidentally end up earning a Darwin award?
So the Darwin award thing definitely came to mind when I first suited up and headed out into the apiary but I have come a long way since then. The first few times I worked with bees I was so scared of disrupting them that I was terrified of picking up frames. Eventually, I just forced myself into the situation enough times to get over it but it really took getting out of my own head and focusing on the creatures in front of me.
One of the ways that bees communicate is through pheromones so if you’re freaking out and sending your body into fight or flight mode you can prompt a particular reaction from the bees. I really had to get into a state of zen to work with these creatures. Today I find beekeeping so relaxing for this exact reason – it completely pulls you out of your head and forces you to turn your attention to the world around you.
I now find beekeeping to be almost meditative. I know it sounds strange but if you think about it: you’re outdoors, you’re focused on some amazing buzzing creatures and the beauty of the comb that they create and you typically elicit the best response from them if you’re relaxed making the apiary a great place to meditate!
Daniel, Can You Tell Us a Little About How You Came to Start Using the Propolis Spray and How You Came to Become Involved at Beekeeper’s?
My story is definitely less interesting than Carly’s but propolis had a similarly profound effect on my health. As a kid and through my teenage years, I exercised and played A LOT of sports, which allowed me to get away with a sub-par diet.
However, as I got older, and especially during grad school (where I was putting in a lot of late nights at the library), the effects of poor eating and an unhealthy lifestyle caught up with me and I was getting sick at least once a month.
I would take over-the-counter meds, which would barely get myself through each cold or flu and minimally mask the symptoms in the short-term, only to get sick again a few weeks later.
I was desperate for anything to help and a friend recommended Beekeeper’s Naturals Propolis Spray to me. I picked up a bottle and have never looked back. I fell in love with the sweet taste and began spraying daily. Soon after I was fighting off colds and flues like a health machine and avoiding those pesky colds, flues and sore throats that were the bane of my existence all through my MBA.
I had been a long time skeptic of natural products and I soon become a convert after experiencing the awesome powers of propolis. I felt that I had to spread the word about this effective and natural substance to other skeptics like myself and I reached out to Carly and the rest is history.
Talk to Us About Your Passion for Bees and Be-e Convincing. Okay Seriously, That Was My Last Bee Pun, Promise.
We love bees and it’s not just because they are extremely cute and complex social creatures. They are responsible for every third bite of food that we eat. 70 of the 100 most important human food crops worldwide (which supply around 90% of the world’s nutrition) are pollinated by bees.
We have all of these staples that many of us feel we can’t live without but, more accurately, the thing that we can’t live without is the bees. From almonds to apples, coffee, tea, and even beef (yes, bees pollinate alfalfa and clover, which are key parts of cows’ and other animals’ diets), bees work their wings off to bring us many of the foods we enjoy.
These selfless creatures are in serious trouble with US beekeepers reporting losses of over 40% of their honeybee colonies last year and Canadian beekeepers reporting a 25% overwintering loss 2 winters ago (compared to the average of 15%) with Ontario reporting a gigantic 58% loss! We need to act fast in order to save our buzzing friends before it’s too late.
*These are for both you*
Was It Bees That Led You to the Paleo Community?
Carly: I was eating Paleo long before I went beegan. As I mentioned, I have an obnoxiously sensitive immune and digestive systems so the Paleo way of life worked well for me. I first eliminated grains and noticed a major change in my energy levels and as I began reading up on the Paleo lifestyle, I felt that it just made sense for me.
I did, however, keep my sweet tooth and my love for cooking so, naturally, raw honey became my go-to ingredient well before I started beekeeping. As I became more involved with bees, I learned about the benefits of different bee products and my health has really improved since and I am now a proud “beegan” (our term for sustainable bee product lovers).
For example, I love bee pollen as a protein source and I take a spoon of raw honey before bed to help me sleep (by maintaining liver glycogen levels and contributing to the release of melatonin).
Daniel: Bees, and more specifically propolis, indirectly led me to the Paleo community. A long time skeptic of natural products, the profound impact that propolis had on my health really opened by eyes to the power of natural products and the importance of nutrition.
It spurred a personal health revolution and I began to care about what I put into my body and I became much more cognizant of what was in the food and drinks I was consuming. This, in turn, led me to the Paleo community and I am proud to say that I have made a complete 180 in the last few years and am the healthiest I have ever been!
What Do You Feel Is the Most Important Thing That a Citizen in North America Can Do to Help in the Fight for the Preservation of Our Bees?
It’s hard to pick just one so we’re going to give you 3 easy ones:
1. Avoid pesticides as these can harm bees. Eating organic can support farmers that don’t use pesticides and NEVER use pesticides on your lawn or garden.
2. Plant something. Even if you live in an apartment or condo, a potted balcony garden is a great way to start. Bees love colorful flowers and make sure you plant plants that are native to your area. Bees will thank you by pollinating your fruits and veggies and giving you an awesome garden!
3. Build a bee bath. Bees get thirsty too! All you need is a bowl with some shallow water and rocks or moss to serve as islands for the bees to use as landing pads.
If I use Beekeeper’s Naturals Propolis Spray excessively, will I get bee-related super powers? Why has anyone not tried this already?
Obviously! Daniel is our test subject and he is currently buzzing all over the office (and spooning raw honey)…sprayer beware.
Do You Have Any New Upcoming Products Normal People or Plague-ridden Folk Might Be Interested in? Recommendations?
We are currently developing a few products but they are top-secret! All we can say is that our next products will incorporate some of the other awesome bee superfoods and will be great for boosting energy, brain power and for pre and post workout fuel and recovery (and will, of course, be Paleo). The Paleo community will be the first to know when they are available!
Any buzz words of wisdom?
Albert Einstein said it best: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live”.