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How Sustainable Sourcing Helps The Honey Bee

  • 3 min read
In recent years Honey Bee population loss has become a sadly common topic of discussion, the team at Burt's Bees tell us about their natural & sustainable sourcing processes as well as their initiatives that raise awareness on the crucial need for Bees & Beekeeping for our ecosystem to continuously thrive.

A Sustainable Approach

Since the humble beginnings of our founders Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby rediscovering the efficacy of simple, natural ingredients, our roots ingrain our sustainability practice in our business. This is reflected in our staff and their drive to get involved with volunteering at the beekeeper's apiaries and so far have helped to shift earth, move trees, plant flowers, paint beehives and dig ponds! Today, it comes to life through our culture, in ways big and small. We don’t keep trash bins at our desks – only recycling. Our Sustainability Advisors team reviews product innovation and serves as a resource on sustainability goals. Each year, we host a Culture Day where we all partner on a particular service initiative. We also encourage employees to bring sustainability into their daily lives through the community by supported agriculture services and sustainability reimbursements. Matt Kopac, Manager of Social and Environmental Responsibility, shares, “At the end of the day, a belief in a greater mission that permeates employee culture is what makes it possible for a brand like Burt’s Bees to exist.”

Helping Our Stripy Friends

We’re proud to sponsor the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) Adopt a Beehive scheme. This charitable project raises awareness of the importance of Honey Bees and good beekeeping husbandry while raising funds to support vital research and education projects to help save the honeybee. We support the BBKA’s Adopt a Beehive scheme through long-term sponsorship as well as working closely with some of the beekeepers in the scheme.

The "Greater Good" Business Model

Most companies look out for the bottom line. Burt’s Bees does, too. In fact, we have a triple bottom line: people, profit, planet. You can't have one without the other two. So when we look after our own, we mean everybody: our employees, our customers, our families, ourselves. And yes, our environment, too. Established in 2007, the Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation is focused on the intersection of the honeybee and human health, supporting sustainable agriculture and community gardens in North Carolina (our home base) and nationally. As part of this, by 2020, we plan to impact 10,000 acres of healthy honeybee forage. Our beeswax is the best example of sustainable sourcing and is wild-crafted in Eastern Africa, where the bees forage throughout managed wildlife preserves as opposed to commercial farms. Beekeepers in this region are not experiencing the same hive stressors to the extent found in North America and Europe. Therefore, there isn’t as great a need to apply specific hive treatments to prevent illness. Rather, the collectors in these remote areas of Eastern Africa utilise a more natural and sustainable process that has been passed down through families for generations. Permits are obtained through the local authorities that manage protected land areas to allow responsible beekeeping on the land. These remote beekeepers gather fallen trees from the forest, split the logs lengthwise and hollow them out by hand. After the logs are hollowed out, sweet grass from the forest floor is collected and this fragrant plant material is used to line the inside of the logs, which naturally attracts bees and provides a foundation for the honeycomb. The logs are raised into the treetops and hung vertically where they remain for two to three months while the bees produce honey and beeswax in this ideal environment. The collectors return once the logs are filled, and each log yields about 10 pounds of beeswax. The colony naturally leaves to find another log when one is filled. Helping to create this demand for sustainably and ethically sourced bee products, promotes ethical beekeeping which is crucial when it comes to helping honeybee colonies to survive & thrive.

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