IT MAY have been a terrible year for bees but Star reporter Rachael Clegg meets a Sheffield beekeeper who has made the best of a bad situation.
THE year 2012 was a disastrous one for bees and beekeepers.
Due to the wet summer – which prevents bees flying and washes off the pollen – the total honey crop for England and Wales was down 50 per cent on its average yield, meaning a loss of £7 million for the UK’s honey industry.
But one Sheffield man is bucking the trend.
Jonathan Stead has used the beeswax from his 1,000,000 bees to create a skin care range known as Our Tiny Bees.
Jonathan, from Stannington, started making skin care products from beeswax and honey just nine months ago but started selling them only one month ago – and is already looking to expand his product range. He sells his products in Pure Enough, Ecclesall Road, where his stock has been flying off the shelves.
The 29-year-old says: “It’s taken off much more than I expected. But it’s good to know people are willing to get behind something that’s local and totally natural.”
The skin care allows Jonathan to maximise on what is, in real terms, a rather modest amount of honey, making his business a resilient one in spite of last year’s poor honey crop.
“People think of honey as being just a sweetener, but it’s good for so many things - especially the skin,” he says. “It’s a humectant, which means it attracts moisture and traps in moisture.” This helps keep skin soft and supple.
Jonathan makes the products from scratch at the back of Pure Enough. He uses beeswax, honey and nut oils.
The relative firmness or butter-like quality of the product depends on the proportions of the three.
The Fab-Bee skin bar, for example, is a bar of beeswax which can be rubbed onto hard-working hands.
Other products include the lush hand butter, a gentle exfoliating skin polish and the Uber Bar, a buttery cream packed with beeswax, oat protein and honey.
Jonathan says: “It’s all quite simple in terms of method but the technique is in blending the right ingredients and making something that’s usable.
“It’s very much like cooking, once you find the right recipe it’s a case of scaling it up.”
And, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all inventions, at least, it was for Jonathan.
“I always had really dry lips and I couldn’t find a lip balm that actually worked so I decided to make one myself. I have been interested in bees for years and had read a lot about honey and beeswax and it all went from there.”
His lip balm became popular with friends, and their friends, until he started selling it to the public. “The lip balm was so popular I started making other products,” he says.
His guinea pig is his girlfriend, Ellie, who has been using the products since Jonathan started making them.
“She uses the Uber Balm at night,” he says. “I also made her a customised treat for Christmas, she loves roses, so I made her a honey-whipped cream with rose.”
Jonathan is already thinking about creating some fragranced products and launching the rose-flavoured honey-whipped cream he created for his other half and at the end of the month he launches a new foot cream.
n Jon is launching new products from the Our Tiny Bees range at Pure Enough, Ecclesall Road, on Wednesday, January 30, where customers will be given free hand massages and a glass of fizz. For details visit www.pure-enough.co.uk or www.ourtinybees.co.uk