16 Regenerative Bee-Based Business Ideas to Smoke Out Your Inner Beekeeper

As the start of this week was World Bee Day, and we are all very much aware of the bee crisis unfolding in front of us, I would like to draw your attention to the importance of bees and the harmonious relationship we (should!) have with them

For the world, they’re some of the most important pollinators, ensuring we can enjoy a vast array of flora, fruits, and vegetables. Equally, traditionally, bee byproducts have been somewhat of a staple in producing natural products – such as candles, fuel, lotions, and creams.

Unfortunately, the oil revolution led to many bee products being replaced with oil-based products, such as paraffin wax, which are not only harmful to the environment but also to our bodies.

To buck this trend, I’d like you sustainable soldiers to consider the possibilities of encouraging the development of apiculture through growing regenerative enterprises that focus on bee-based products.

Here are a handful of bee-related business ideas that you could get your teeth stuck into, while supporting your local beekeeper, or even raising bees yourself.

Sourcing Bee Products

Now, when we look to build regenerative ventures, we’re looking to reorganise our economic and social patterns. Rather than just scalping cheap beeswax and honey online, it’s best to look for local producers of bee products in order to keep your business local, reinvesting into your community, while supporting the growth of the bee population and reducing your carbon footprint.

Here are a couple of handy resources to help you find a local beekeeper:

Apiary Map – They have nearly 6000 beekeepers registered on their site, located all over the globe.

Bee Culture Directory – This is mainly for US-based beekeepers

The British Beekeepers’ Association – A resource to find British-based beekeepers

Local Honey Finder – This is more useful for sourcing honey and is limited to the US

Bee The Cure – This is an Australian source, mapping honey suppliers and beekeepers down under.

Bee Product Business Ideas

Honey (Obviously!)

Honey is the most obvious of all the bee products, with bees producing a great deal extra that can be used for making products.

You can test out various different flower honeys by either locating your bees near certain plants, or by buying from beekeepers who do this.

Alternatively, why not try making honey products, such as honey stirring sticks for tea.

USE CASE: Farmer Gene’s Organic, Raw, Local Honey

This honey is made utilising the wildflowers surrounding their 4 Oregon farms, contains no preservatives or synthetic chemicals, and comes from their very own, all-natural apiaries.

What I like most about this is that you have to buy it directly from Farmer Gene’s farms (or online shop) sending the profits straight back to the maker.


Solid Lotion Bars

Solid lotion bars give you a great way to moisturize your skin without drenching it in synthetic chemicals that later dry out the skin. They’re easy to travel with, giving you a great audience in eco-backpackers and you can use reusable tins to package them.

If you want to get started creating lotion bars for your enterprise, here is an easy-to-follow 3-ingredient recipe to make your own coconut oil beeswax lotion bars: Coconut Mama: Coconut Beeswax Lotion Bar

USE CASE: Honey House Naturals Small Bee Bar Lotion

Honey House Naturals began on a farm near Puget Sound, Washington, by a lady called Ruth Willis, who was using bees to enhance the production of her fruit trees. In an attempt to help her friend’s cracked, drying hands, she created this bee balm – and now provides a whole range of bee cosmetic products.

What I like most about this is that the bees aren’t just being used for their products, but also in the multi-functional purpose of increasing orchard production – in true permaculture style.


Lip Balms/Lipstick

The soothing qualities of beeswax can be combined with essential oils and natural pigments to create lip balms and lipsticks that aren’t harmful to your customer’s faces, while moisturizing their lips simultaneously.

One of the great entrepreneurial things about lip balms and lipsticks is that they can be easily added to a cosmetics range or a toiletries range, or can be posed to customers that do outdoor activities, work in the sun, or live in cold climates – they can be aimed at fishermen or fashionistas, it’s up to you and your marketing!

Get started on creating beeswax lip products using this easy tutorial: Wellness Mama: Simmer Lipstick

USE CASE: Moon Valley Organics Coconut Lime Beeswax Lip Balm

Moon Valley Organics make a whole range of natural cosmetics and toiletries, including this deeply moisturising lip balm. Their products are certified organic, while most of their ingredients come from their permaculture farm, home to artisan farmer, herbalists and beekeepers. They aim their products at healing their customers while sticking to the virtues of regenerative agroecology.

What I like most about Moon Valley Organics is their dedication to supporting organic farms and farmers, as well as the example they set themselves. They combine various forms of ancient medicinal healing with regenerative methods of farming, to create all-round well-being for the earth, the wildlife, the producers, and the buyers. Even their packaging is 100% recyclable!


Beard Wax

One for the fellas, beeswax beard and moustache wax is a great natural alternative for male grooming, that moisturises the face while helping to tame the beast.

In terms of entrepreneurship, creating your own beard waxes means you can target, not only the male population, but also B2B customers such as barbers.

Start bashing out your own line of beard waxes with this simple recipes from Beardoholic.

USE CASE: Harvest Beard – Premium Beard Balm for Men (Sandalwood)

Harvest Beard was created as a way to encourage stewardship and dignity in men, by reviving the art of beard and moustache maintenance. They dedicate themselves to using high quality products that reflect their dedicated to eco-friendly practices.

What I like most about Harvest Beard is that they’re creating a chic image around the concept of environmental sustainability, utilizing only top quality natural products to create their beard balms. I feel that there is a great deal of emphasis on women using natural cosmetics, but Harvest Beard are dedicating their time to encouraging this behaviour in male grooming too.


Surfboard/Snowboard/Ski Wax

This is a little more of an obscure idea, but a niche product that has a very large audience. When we consider the damage done to the oceans and rivers (mountain run-off from snow) from plastic and paraffin-based products.

Providing a natural alternative encourages sports lovers to respect the natural environment that provides them the thrill. Business-wise, there aren’t that many companies offering this product, making it a great choice for those looking to break into bee-related products that help the environment.

Surf/snowboard wax is quite easy and cheap to make in comparison to other bee-based products, so why not start creating your line today using this recipe from Surfer Today.

USE CASE: My Manoa – Organic Surf Wax

Based out of Manoa Valley in Honolulu, My Manoa makes a whole range of organic soaps and cosmetics, as well as this surf wax. Based in beautiful Hawaii, My Manoa are dedicated to ensure they preserve the environment they love. This surf wax is handmade, and includes organic coconut oil in the recipe.

What I like most about this is that it not only provides a wax that’s environmentally safe, it also moisturises your skin while you surf!


Crayons/Oil Pastels

When it comes to art supplies, many of the acrylic paints and paraffin wax crayons we use are harmful to the environment and our own skin. Not only that, if you have young children, the prospect of them gobbling a paraffin wax crayon is pretty high – which really isn’t good for their health.

Beeswax crayons make an eco-friendly, non-toxic alternative that are safe for artists and toddlers alike, as they use all natural products, including food-grade natural pigments. Enterprise-wise, beeswax crayons have a wide target audience, from Mums of small children, to environmentally-conscious art students, through to kindergartens and nurseries.

If you’d like to start a business making beeswax-based natural art supplies, check out this recipe which also gives great ideas for natural colourings: Hippie Homemaker – Natural Crayons

USE CASE: Honeysticks – 100% Pure Beeswax Crayons Natural (12 Pack)

Honeysticks make both beeswax crayons and soy/beeswax bath crayons from 100% natural raw organic ingredients and non-toxic food grade pigments. Based in New Zealand, the company prides itself on being sustainable and low-impact, from the sourcing of their ingredients through to their packaging.

What I like most about Honeysticks is that they’re not only made from ingredients sourced from sustainable plantations and farms, they’re also ergonomically designed to help children in the development of their writing and drawing skills. Equally, they’re completely non-toxic so it doesn’t matter if your kiddie chews on one.


Firestarters

Wood stoves are becoming increasingly fashionable, while the idea of burning wood pellets is becoming a more environmentally sound option that gas or coal fire heating – especially if one is sourcing their own wood.

In this sense, there’s a great market for fire starters – both in BBQ season and in the winter periods.

Here’s a really easy way to make beeswax fire starters the recycles egg boxes and sawdust, created by Harmonic Mama – you may want to pretty them up if you intend to sell them!

USE CASE: Forest Fundamentals – Beeswax Infused Jute Twine Fire Starters

Dedicated to providing high quality bushcraft and outdoor tools, Forest Fundamentals are designing products that help their customers get close to nature. These fire starters are designed to get a campfire going, but can also be used in the home if necessary.

What I like most about Forest Fundamentals is their tribute to the forest and keeping it natural. By using these jute twine fire starters, you’re not producing any harmful waste, returning the natural ingredients to the soil.


Grafting Wax

For farmers, agroforesters, and agroecologist, grafting is a part of everyday life to produce consistent yields. Unfortunately, many farmers now use paraffin-based grafting waxes, which are harmful to the trees and plants.

There aren’t many beeswax alternatives out there, creating a hole in the market for any ecopreneur interested in filling it, as it provides a product ideal for organic farmers, urban gardeners, and orchard managers.

You’ll find a simple recipe for beeswax grafting wax here.

USE CASE: Trowbridge’s – Grafting Wax

Trowbridge’s Grafting Wax is probably the oldest and most well-known grafting wax for organic farmers. It’s super simple to use, with just a little heating and applying it with a stiff brush.

What I like most about this particular brand is that because it is made using all natural ingredients, it can also be used as a seal to help heal wounded trees, as well as for grafting.


Wood Polish

Wood needs to breathe while also obtaining moisture to stop it cracking. Yet despite this, modern day polishes filled with toxic chemicals create a sheen on top of the wood, which doesn’t moisturise it, but instead just makes it look shiny.

There is a solid market for beeswax wood polishes, especially when it comes to high quality long-lasting furniture and outdoor furniture in hot countries (that easily cracks in the sun).

You’ll find that by pursuing this angle, you can either sell to individual customers, or place your products in furniture shops or sell it to furniture makers – as well as home builders and those that create wooden structures, like sheds. You can also benefit from this if you’re a carpenter/woodworker yourself.

Lovely Greens has the most basic recipe for beeswax wood polish, and demonstrates how to use it, for those looking to turn their hand to the woodcare business.

USE CASE – Three BEEautiful Bees – All-Natural Beeswax Polish with Jojoba Oil

With all-natural ingredients, Three BEEautiful Bees wood polish is designed to condition the wood, as well as providing a protective layer between the wood and dirt, grime, water and food. Using organic Jojoba oil, this wood polish moisturises deeply into the wood, restoring its natural shine.

What I like most about these wood polishes is that they’re created by an energy healer, who combines them with calming and refreshing essential oils that heal the mind and soul and create a calming atmosphere in the room where the wood is being kept.


Deodorant

If you’ve ever tried to source a decent natural deodorant, you’ll know the hassle. Nobody wants to pong like a ‘smelly hippie’, yet all-natural deodorants rarely do the trick. That said, beeswax deodorants tend to be extremely effective.

In this sense, you have an ideal product to market to both men and women concerned with eco-friendly cosmetics and toiletries – that actually works! As a daily-use product, you’ll find you can easily create return customers to your brand.

Dabble in all-natural deodorant making using this recipe from Don’t Mess with Mama

USE CASE: Bee Fresh – Natural Deodorant

Containing 100% organic natural ingredients, Bee Fresh deodorant not only keeps you from whiffing, it also has natural antibacterial properties that help to create healthy skin, while balancing the pH levels.

What I like most about this deodorant is not just that it works, it’s that the company are dedicated to ethical practices, testing only on humans (never animals), while sourcing from sustainable producers. Also this product allows the skin to breathe, without blocking pores, but stops you from kicking up a stink!


Food Wraps

Cling film or plastic wrap is simply a terrible product. While snap boxes and tupperware can replace these, you’ll find their discolour over time, while leaking chemicals into your food.

Natural beeswax wraps are a great alternative. With the ‘reuse’ trend coming into full swing, it’s the ideal business opportunity – especially since you can recycle old materials, giving you a cheaper headstart.

If you’d like to jump on the ‘reuse’/’zero waste’ trend, you can learn to make beeswax wraps from Mountain Rose Herbs.

USE CASE: Lottie and Bo – Beeswax Wraps

With a variety of shapes and sizes and fun patterns, Lottie and Bo was started from the founders’ kitchen in response to the overuse of plastics and the sheer volume of environmental degradation. Lottie and Bo have a range of wraps and will hand-make to order. Their wraps are 100% natural and antibacterial by nature.

What I like most about Lottie and Bo wraps is their story. The founders are using this business opportunity to showcase a better way for their children to leave – leading by example, as well as leveraging personal entrepreneurship to break away from the grey monotony and limiting boundaries of the rat race.


Candles

Perhaps one of the other most obvious examples of beeswax use, candles have gone back for centuries. Producing natural candles using beeswax is relatively simple and cost-effective, and also provides opportunities for aromatherapeutic healing, by combining the beeswax with essential oils.

In terms of a business opportunity, this is quite a saturated market, however organic products of this type are still few and far between. Creating products with unique healing properties and incredible handcrafted style tends to be the way to go.

While you’ll need to make the product your own to sell it, you can learn the basics of beeswax candle making from Hello Glow.

USE CASE: Honey Bee Candles

Created by two female founders, these beautifully crafted beeswax candles are all made from ethically sourced beeswax that supports traditional beekeepers and their families. Not only are the candles aesthetically stunning, all packaging is plastic-free and zero-waste.

What I like most about Honey Bee Candles is their commitment to zero-waste living and to ensuring that beekeepers are supported for their work.


Mead

Mead is a very old fashioned alcoholic drink that is making its way back into the popular eye thanks to the craft beer movement.

With the craft movement open to new ideas, there is a great deal of room for unique mead flavours and micro-brew batches.

You can learn to make mead from mead master Jereme Zimmerman, in his comprehensive book: Make Mead Like a Viking: Traditional Techniques for Brewing Natural, Wild-Fermented, Honey-Based Wines and Beers

USE CASE: Hexagon Honey Mead

The only organic mead in New Zealand, Hexagon Honey Mead is made from an old recipe, which has been enjoyed for generations. Named after the old hexagona hut on the founders’ family commune, this mead is simple yet delicious, carrying a long history behind it.

What I like most about this mead is that the company has been involved in beekeeping for over 50 years, which gives them a wealth of experience in keeping bees healthy, as well as producing fine mead! I also love their motto: ‘Enjoy with gladness and happiness of heart’.


Bee Pollen and Propolis Tinctures

Bee pollen tinctures are incredible allergy relief medicines, as well as being excellent liver tonics, immune system boosters, and stress relievers. Bee pollen tinctures are often used to relieve menopause symptoms too. You’ll also find bee pollen tinctures are used as a dietary supplement

Propolis tinctures are used to heal wounds, relieve burning, and for cancer symptoms.

Business-wide bee pollen and propolis tinctures appeal to a wide-ranging audience, from older women to those who suffer from allergies to anyone suffering from sunburn!

If you’d like to know how to make tinctures such as these, you can follow this tutorial from Humblebee and Me.

USE CASE: Ecstatic Earth – Organic Bee Pollen Extract Tincture

Ecstatic Earth produces a whole catalog of herbal tinctures, with their bee pollen variety being just one of them. All their ingredients are either wild harvested or sourced from organic suppliers, while everything is tested for bacteria, mold, and heavy metals before being sent out.

What I like most about Ecstatic Earth is that they try to forage many of their products, yet still test them for herbicide and pesticide contamination – ensuring you receive the purest medicines.


Soap

Using natural beeswax, you can combine it with lye, honey, and other natural and essential oils to create various natural beeswax soaps. This naturally antibacterial and moisturising, as well as being entirely biodegradable, as not to pollute waterways.

While there are many people creating beeswax soaps on the market today, they’re easy to do and you can combine them with unique herbal combinations for aromatherapy treatment in the bath.

To get started on creating your own line of beeswax soaps, check out this guide by Soap Recipes 101.

USE CASE: Hudson Made – Organic Scullery Soap

Operating out of the Hudson Valley area, Hudson made not only provide all natural, organic soaps, they also source all their ingredients locally to reduce their carbon footprint and to support local economies. Their soaps use flowers, vegetable oils, mineral, and essential oils, blended perfectly to create a harmonious balance in each bar.

What I like most about this company is their commitment to supporting the ecosystem by only using natural, non-toxic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, combined with their dedication to supporting local economies and farmers through their sourcing and production processes.


Bee Balm Medicines

For the vegans among you, the concept of using bee products may not seem so appealing. However, you can support bee populations with your entrepreneurial spirit by creating homes that bees love to frolic in.

If you don’t want to become a beekeeper yourself, you can always grow flowers such as bee balm, which a big favourite to bees. You can either sell these for their aesthetic beauty or you can turn them into medicinal products, such as bee balm teas and tinctures.

Homespun Seasonal Living gives 5 great entrepreneurial ideas for making products from bee balm, that are easy to follow and cheap to make.

USE CASE: October Fields – Bee Balm Tincture

This bee balm tincture is soothing and antimicrobial and is used for flus, colds, and fevers, It is a digestive tonic, as well as an anti-sickness medicine. You’ll find that if you’re experiencing heavy coughing or menstrual cramps, the antispasmodic properties in this all natural, organic tincture will help to calm these symptoms.

What I like most about this company is that it has honed its target audience and leads by example, as a cruelty-free, vegan brand that uses traditional alchemy to bring self-awareness to their products. They believe in intuitive simplicity, which has allowed them to create an incredible line of ethically made medicinal products that work with the rhythms of nature.

To sum up…

As regenerative entrepreneurs, it is vital for us to recognise the importance of protecting all the components of the world, and working in harmony with them.

As permaculturists and environmentalists, it is is our responsibility to help increase the bee population. Whether this is by supporting local beekeepers or by planting diverse ecosystems that attract bees for pollination.

By providing these environments for bees, we create a mutually harmonious connection, where bees can thrive and where we can benefit from bee products, without disturbing the balance of give and take.

As a regenerative entrepreneur, therefore, it is INTEGRAL that if you are creating a revenue system from bee products, that you are sourcing them ethically or producing them ethically yourself. This means organic production, careful consumption, and reducing carbon footprints as we go!


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5 Observations from my Tropical Garden

OK, so I have been working on this garden in Nicaragua for about a month now. It’s rainy season so it’s been a bit of a busy kafuffle trying to get everything ready before the big rains come. Due to this, there have been a great many changes to the garden very quickly. Here are a few things I’ve observed from working.

  1. Tropical rain is hard to deal with

When it comes to rainwater harvesting, the tropics have their own set of complications. While half the year it’s throwing rain out of the sky like a clown with a bucket, the other half is dry as a bone. While obviously we want harvest as much rainwater as we can in order to keep the plants satisfied in dry season, when that rain comes down in rainy season, it comes so thick and fast that the beds become saturated.

As some work had been done in one area before I came, I can actually compare the different methods used. The guys here had already transplanted tomato plants into terraces when I arrived, without preparing the soil. This means that when it rains, while the terraces help to halt the water, once the bed becomes full, it overflows and the soil starts the erode down the beds. However, I used sheet mulching with rice husks and weeds on the new beds I built. This not only suppresses the weeds, but it holds the water, absorbing it into the rice husks.

I have noticed a few things with this method. The soil isn’t eroding and the weeds are suppressed which means the seedlings seem to be sprouting up at record rate. With the tomatoes, you can see that some areas are more eroded than others, and in those eroded areas, the tomatoes are not growing so well or dying off; especially at the top of the bed.

I’m trying to combat this by laying rice husks down. It’s not impossible but it’s tedious to weave in and out of the plants. Rather than laying green mulch, I’m planting edible cover crops in between; some give nitrogen to the soil, some shade, some are simply weed suppressants, but all of them help to hold and harvest the water.

  1. The insects love anything non-native

When I first arrived here, I was fortunate enough to bump into Scott, one of the teachers at Rancho Mastatal. It was my first day here and his advice was invaluable. He told me that it’s hard to grow food here because the insects are ferocious. I was a little confused at first, because everyone has to eat, but then I realised he was referring to the kinds of vegetables we can easily grow in the UK.

I observed the garden to work out where the insects like to flock to and where they stay away. It became apparent very quickly that native plants were far more hardy to the attacks of the insects. I started to chat to the local guys to find out more about edible weeds and indigenous plants. They pointed me toward a wild bean, certain squashes, indian lettuce, wandering jew, cucaracha, katuk, chaya, and other such plants. I’ve been planting these in the garden and so far, they seem to be much more hardy. While the insects are slowly mauling the tomatoes, they tend to steer clear from these more native species.

The shows that part of permaculture is to think about how to adapt to your surroundings. While it’s great to have an iceberg lettuce for a solid BLT, using native edible leaves as lettuce is going to have a much higher success rate.

  1. The jungle will always try to take the land back

I’ve noticed that I need creative ways to keep the jungle back. Whether that’s using thick mulch or cover crops, it is important to suppress the weeds in order to intensively grow enough food. While I have of course worked in other gardens with weeds growing, the jungle is a different ballgame. If I weed a bed, leave the soil bare, and come back that evening, there will be weeds again.

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Right now I’m experimenting with all different ways. I’ve been planting lemongrass at the edges to use their dense root system to keep back weeds. I’ve also been planting squashes all around the patches, as their large leaves help to keep the weeds back using shade. Varying cover crops a will help me to work out which plants work best with with vegetables to keep the weeds back without affecting the growth of the veggies; the variety also increases the biodiversity.

  1. A decent plant nursery is essential

When I first got here, the garden guys were using plastic crates filled with soil as a plant nursery. There are a few issues with this that prevents seedling sprouting.

Firstly, the rain is so heavy that it leads to the box saturating and becoming swampy. There’s no places for it to drain. Equally, they used the same soil from the ground, without mixing in sand, making it difficult for things to root easily. Secondly, the boxes aren’t shaded and the blistering tropical sunshine leads to seedlings withering; they need some kind of shade.

This week I would like to try to create a plant nursery to start planting lettuce seedlings and peppers. I’m thinking of using plastic bottles as a means to harvest water and build it from bamboo, ensuring drainage, while also giving shade.

  1. Terracing creates a series of microenvironments

I’ve never worked so closely with terraces before and seeing them every day enables me to understand their power. With all gardens, different areas should be treated differently due to their ranging features; some areas have more shade, water, wind, light.

However, interestingly, by creating terraces, we have created several different areas to work with. The top of the terracing tends to get more flooded than the bottom, which doesn’t appear to make logical sense, but it does. This means that plants that like wet feet, tend to be doing better up there; such as lemongrass. With this observation, I planted yucca at the bottom (north). Planting it here was a conscious decision as its northern location means it won’t shade out the garden, but it is also quite drought hardy, so it would be fine with less water.

I have planted varying crops all over the place. As they grow or don’t, I will be able to see what does well together where and replicate this in similar areas. This planting and revision enables me to learn from what I’m dong and to re-evaluate the system to increase its productivity through pattern recognition. It’s frightfully interesting!