We interviewed Carly Stein, entrepreneur and founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals. We found out how she incorporates propolis into her daily routine, what the average person can do to promote healthy bee populations, and how to do yoga in the middle of an apiary — without getting stung!
Do either you or your partner have a background working with bees?
Both my partner Daniel and I are beekeepers! I have always had a passion for the environment and the creatures who sustain it but I really developed a curiosity about the bees in my final year of university. Since then I’ve volunteered with some of the beekeepers that we work with and make sure to get some bee time in on a regular basis. When Daniel joined our team, I felt that it was imperative that he too has a genuine relationship with the creatures responsible for our products so he entered a beekeeping mentorship program and has since developed a real passion for the art of beekeeping and the intricacies of the bees. On any given spring/summer weekend, you can often find Daniel and I in an apiary hanging with bees!
We love your website! How did you go about creating something so perfect for your business?
Thank you! We are very passionate about the proper treatment of bees and the actions we all must take to protect them and our entire website was designed with this in mind and set up to be a globally accessible platform to express these messages. In terms of design, we were looking to clearly and directly provide our community with the tools they need to make a difference to the bees and make informed health decisions when trying our products. We can’t really take credit for the cute colour scheme since we really just borrowed the look from our bees.
We noticed you have a blog (and we’re big fans of blogging)! What content brings the most traffic to your website?
Our Unveiled series generates a lot of buzz (sorry couldn’t resist!). It’s a unique interview series we created to reframe the bees in the eyes of the public and introduce the mysterious people who dedicate their time to working with thousands (and in some cases, millions!) of creatures who most people associate with being stung. We also wanted to create a forum and valuable resource for other beekeepers who utilize sustainable practices and are always excited to see what beekeeping tips everyone shares.
What are three things the average person can do to promote healthy bee populations?
2) Lose the pesticides.
3) Buy local and organic when possible. (That’s why we’re outraged about all the General Mills buzz!)
Even if you don’t have a large area to grow the garden of your dreams, you can always create a balcony herb garden or add a few pots of yummy home-grown veggies or beautiful flowers to your back porch to provide the bees with a source of food. Just because you live in an urban area doesn’t mean you can’t play a role in saving the bees!
You have a full time job outside of Beekeeper’s Naturals. How do you make it all work?
With a lot of propolis to keep my immune system functioning and my energy levels up! Healthy eating and bee products aside, it’s a lot of hard work and commitment. I have a genuine passion for both health and the bees so I don’t mind my social life taking a bit of hit. I’m not going to lie, there are times when things can appear overwhelming but knowing that I am working towards something bigger and seeing our impact, from a customer thanking us for helping their lingering sore throat to teaching a new community about the cause to being able to use some of our proceeds to fund important research, the only thing more gratifying than seeing your hard work come to life is watching the other people who are positively affected by your efforts.
Is using your propolis spray part of your daily routine?
It absolutely is! I love putting propolis in my smoothies, coffee and tea. I use it daily to increase my antioxidant intake and fight inflammation and when I’m pulling a string of late nights and feeling a bit run down I increase the amount I’m spraying to safeguard my immune system.
Does your propolis spray really prevent cold and flu?
It’s the first thing I turn to if I start sniffling or get a tickle in my throat. Propolis is one of the highest naturally occurring sources of antioxidants and great for supporting the immune system. Bees have used it for millennia to protect their hive from bacteria, viruses and other disease and humans have been using it for centuries. We use our spray as our natural defender and many of our customers can’t travel or leave home without it! (It’s in Lisa’s kids’ kits for summer camp, too!)
Do you have a favourite kind of bee?
I love honeybees – they are amazing pollinators and I’m fascinated by the way that they form an intricate community. That being said, all types of bees are important! Most people don’t realize that honeybees represent only a small fraction of the roughly 20,000 known species of bees, many of which are important pollinators. Last summer, Beekeeper’s Naturals hosted a bee hotel building workshop as these bee hotels can provide an important home for solitary bees and are a great way to support other bee species so if anyone’s interested check out our bee-log!
We saw the amazing video of you doing yoga in the middle of an apiary, surrounded by bees! Did you get stung?
I did not! Bees primarily attack when their hive is under threat so if you don’t appear as a threat you’re generally in the clear. Many beekeepers will tell you that bees can sense emotions as they respond to pheromones and it is important to be calm when beekeeping. Getting into my meditative state kept me calm and non-threatening and prevented an onslaught of bee stings that can be catalyzed by threatening just one bee (when bees sting they release a pheromone to recruit other bees to their location to defend their hive).
Based on what you’ve sold so far, what demographic appears to be the most excited about your work?
We have two main groups that make up our customer base: health conscious parents and young professionals. Younger generations are becoming more interested in their health and really appreciate the care that we take to ensure our products are sustainably sourced and made with the highest quality natural ingredients. I think young professionals also like to have impact with their purchases and knowing that we put a great deal of effort into helping the cause is something that they can get behind.
Parents, with the health of their families in mind, are becoming some of the most informed health enthusiasts out there. We have had a great deal of parents and young mothers reach out to us to let us know that our product with its short ingredient list, natural formula and great taste is the only medicine they can get their kids to take. Our bottle size also makes it the perfect superfood to toss into a lunch box or school bag and the great tastes ensures that you will not have chase a kid to ensure they have taken their propolis!
Our products are also made with the modern fast-paced lifestyle in mind. Our goal is to provide all natural innovative solutions to modern day problems so we develop our products for those users and factor in their schedules, health concerns and dietary restrictions to create natural products with benefits for a diverse group of people and convenient sizing/packaging.