Of Beauty, Bees and Books (Well, One Book!)
Having worked with two bee brands Unbeelievable Health (who we still work with) and LifeMel, the necessity of bees in the world, and their plight is something very close to my heart. Some of you must have picked up on this through my writing as I recently received through the post a book entitled The Bees which was sent to me out of my interest in bees. I started reading it today and am already a third of the way through it, I’m hooked! It’s a thriller novel set in a beehive. There are bees wearing pomade and doing tapestries but for the most part, bees are not given human traits – these small attributes are included to give the reader a sense of the bees’ style and therefore place in society. There are social messages in the story, and the author Laline Paull’s letter tells me it’s also about mother-love versus duty. The protagonist, a lowly worker bee called Flora 717, has only recently met her mother so I am yet to see this storyline unfurl. It’s incredibly well written, such a page turner that I daresay I will finish in the next couple of days!
The book is causing quite a ripple across the world, people tweeting to say they were moved by the story, that they will never look at bees in the same way, and that they felt urged to learn more about bees and the environment after reading. Lucy Atkins of The Times wrote in her review that the book ‘highlights our modern environmental crimes” and Tracy Chevalier “could not put it down”. Seems I’m not alone!
I couldn’t write about The Bees and not mention some of my favourite bee brands.
I am in Greece writing this, and there are some enormous bees like you have never seen the like of. Lots of wasps too though! Several Greeks have mentioned Apivita to me when I tell them what I do, so I must check out this brand. The island we’re staying on is Kea, but it’s so small I doubt that I’ll find any here. We will be visiting a friend in Athens before returning, so I will try to search it out there, although I hear it is now available in London. The other brand people have mentioned is Korres, which I already know about of course, but would you believe that George Korres stayed in the same apartment we are staying in three years ago! Small world, hey!
But I digress, onto the api bee brands that I want to share with you today. First up Therapi. I met Tanya Hawkes, the founder of Therapi, at CAM Expo last year and she very kindly gave me a sample of her Lemon Myrtle Honey Gel Cleanser. I was working with Unbeelievable Health at the show, and it was a great coming together of two passionate women from two pro-bee brands. Tanya is a beekeeper and just like Sarah Orecchia of Unbeelievable Health, Tanya donates a portion of company profits to bee charities and helps educate the public about the importance of bees.
Therapi Honey Gel Cleanser is available in three different varieties – Rose Otto for dry skin, Orange Blossom for normal skin, and Lemon Myrtle for Oily/Combination skin. The cleanser is a foaming gel, but the foaming action is very slight. The formula is light and contains nourishing, antibacterial Honey; gentle surfactant Yucca, which contains phenolic compounds and saponins, both associated with antioxidant action; Lemon Myrtle to help balance oil production; soothing Aloe Vera; anti-ager Sea Buckthorn, and essential oils from Grapefruit, Juniper and Peppermint.
I like how this cleanser left my face feeling clean but not stripped of oils, as some foaming cleansers can. The fragrance is light and delicate, as is the foaming action. Although not one to usually plump for foaming cleansers, this is one that I would definitely use again! Although I think I would opt for the Orange Blossom one next time for normal skin in summer, or Rose Otto in winter.
Next up Simply Bee Propolis Serum. You can read more about Simply Bee here, who have recently switched their emulsifiers to a 100% natural formulation, which made me delighted! This serum is sweet and simple, with a Sweet Almond Oil Base, Bee Propolis and Neroli Oil being the only ingredients. I love the scent of Neroli, it’s definitely up there with my favourites, and Propolis is an excellent anti-cancer agent! Research has found that use of bee propolis both internally and topically can successfully prevent malignant cell growth, increase immune function of the systems that ward off cancer and bring balance back to a body previously ravaged by cancer. More than 20 studies in experimental medicine and hospital settings were recorded with excellent results. Bee Propolis in amounts of only 30-50 drops of a tincture 4x a day was found to have these amazing results. This is not the first reporting of the anti-cancer benefits of propolis, worldwide research has shown that propolis has strong anti-cancer and immuno-modulatory effects.* Special phytonutrients in propolis, such as CAPE (caffeic acid phenethyl ester) and Propolin C, have significant cytotoxic effects and can induce apoptosis (i.e. break down cancer cells) in cancerous tumours.
Simply Bee Propolis Serum helps calm the skin, decongest and strengthen, whilst also helping prevent age spots and premature ageing, making this a great skincare product to pack when going on your summer holidays!
Now onto Queen of the Hive Face Contour Mask. I was asked quite recently about bee venom and whether it is ethically produced. I think it’s as ethical as it can be. A glass plate with a small electrical current is placed in the hive and when the bees land on it, the current makes them release a little bit of venom onto the glass, because the sting cannot be left in the glass plate, the bee does not lose its sting. But does this cause stress to the animal and if so how much? That’s the golden question I would like to ask. Wedderspoon seems like a decent company though, with accreditations from Soil Association and Vegetarian Society, so I am sure they have done their research into the impact this behaviour would have on bees.
Bee venom’s chemical name is apitoxin. It’s a clear, odourless liquid that’s injected into your skin when a honeybee stings you. Containing more than 20 known compounds, the most prominent is melittin. This is an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral protein. How does it work in skincare? Well it tricks our bodies into thinking they have been stung, which sends the blood flow to the skin and causes healing actions such as collagen production, in turn strengthening the skin.
Queen of the Hive Face Contour Mask contains several organic api products – OMA 16+ Manuka Honey, Bee Venom and Beeswax, along with Apricot Kernel Oil, Cocoa Butter, Avocado Oil, Rosehip Oil, and essential oils of Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Vanilla and Tea Tree. The scent that comes through is Geranium with Vanilla and just a hint of Tea Tree. Be warned! The first time you use this product you may find your skin sensitive to the venom! It will feel tingly and perhaps very strange. That said, I quite enjoyed the sensation! It’s good to know that a product is doing what it said it would!
I have several friends who have tried this product and we all agree that it is a superb anti-ager, leaving skin looking smoother and more refined and not taking very long to do so either!
Queen of the Hive also offers a rather super lip care product – no Bee Venom in here though, just Manuka Beeswax, Shea Butter, Olive Oil Cocoa Butter, Manuka Honey, Rosemary and Peppermint for a lipbalm that repairs protects and nourishes all in one go.
What are your must-have bee products? I’m on the hunt for some Apivita products this holiday – watch this space for an update soon. To find out more about how you can help bee17s visit therapi.com
*Greporis,E., et. al., 2011. Propolis as potential cosmeceutical sunscreen agent for its combined photoprotective and antioxidant properties. International Journal of Pharmaceuticals, 405(1-2), pp. 97-101.