Greenman’s quest for great skin balms, and support for community-farmed organic bee products
Greenman uses organic , community farmed beeswax as the basis for our balms, because it really works, and is a gift from nature used by our ancestors for as long we know, at least since the ancient Egyptians. Greenman prefers to use plant products where possible, though our vision includes living with animals in a holistic way – for example, a small holding and vegetarian lifestyle with milk, eggs and honey . So we have tested vegan waxes for cosmetics (hemp, candellila) but none are organically produced. In addition, beeswax is the best balm base, being kind to skin, good texture and aroma, storage and temperature stability in the pocket.
When using beeswax its especially important that it is organic, because we are going to put it on our skin, and we know some bee farmers use antibiotics and pesticides in their hives, as well as on their crops. This requirement for organic beeswax led us to New Zealand and California, both places where large organic plantation crops are grown. But in recent years, industrial-scale bee farming has been associated with Colony Collapse Disorder, since parasites such as Varroa Mite thrive in large scale bee farms.
Finally, our researches led us to natural bee farmers in African forests (Ethiopia and Zambia). Here, traditional methods using hollow logs (now often modernised with frame hives) are used by small scale community farmers in untouched natural forests. These traditional methods include cleaning old hives with fire, which destroys parasites. Not only is the product organic certified by Soil Association, it is also community farmed, and has been done so sustainably since ancient times. Supporting communities in traditional farming helps make it sustainable to work in harmony with nature – ie, it helps protect against industrial scale plantation farming, which harms the environment in many ways (reduction in natural habitat, reduction in biodiversity, exhaustion of water resources, desertification).
Greenman developed BeeBalm over several years. The first tubes went on sale in March 2012 in Brighton. As we developed our lip balm, and the name BeeBalm came to us, we realised organic bees are vitally important to the organic movement.
We choose ingredients with an established reputation for protection, nourishment and antiseptic qualities. It’s not rocket science, just natural ingredients – pure, organic and unrefined – with a history of beneficial use by humans. That way we know about the products by our own experience with no need for animal testing. We specify organic because we don’t want contamination by pesticides or relatively untried industrial chemicals.
We started our search for organic beeswax during a trip to Cornwall in 2010, and continued the quest to Scotland’s Western Isles. We’ve learned the sad news that the UK no longer has any stretch of organic land big enough for bees to forage from. Bees gather their nectar and pollen over a wide range, so the farmland for miles around needs to be organic – no nasty pesticides.
By supporting organic bee farming, we help to save bees and reward farmers who don’t use the pesticides. That’s very topical right now, with pesticides being blamed for massive decline in bee populations.
Greenman hasn’t given up the quest for British produced organic bee products. If we can defend the bees, we’ll have taken a big step toward saving our planet.