How to Save the Bees & Still Enjoy Their Superfoods: Our Interview with Beekeeper’s Naturals Founder

Today on the blog: all about bees. Carly Stein wasn’t planning to launch a company when she discovered the healing benefits of bee substances – she was just trying to get over being sick while traveling. One Italian pharmacy, a few years, a beekeeping apprentice, and (I think safe to say) a lot of work and research later, her company, Beekeeper’s Naturals is a certified B Corporation, and she’s been featured on Forbes’ 30 under 30. We got to hear more from Carly about the incredible bee-made superfoods that we never knew existed, tangible ways we can help save the bee population, and why sustainable beekeeping is essential to our global food supply.

You have a bit of a wild story behind what first introduced you to the benefits of bee products. Can you share about this story, and how it then fueled you to start Beekeeper’s Naturals?

Absolutely! As a college student, I struggled with a really weak immune system and recurring tonsillitis. On my semester abroad in Europe it got particularly severe. I am allergic to most antibiotics so, without a cure in sight, I was on the cusp of cutting my trip short and flying home for surgery. I was absolutely desperate for a natural cure, so when I was given a bottle of this strange stuff called bee propolis by an Italian pharmacist, I figured I had nothing to lose and gave it a shot.

After barely one week of propolis, I was amazed that my tonsils actually returned to normal! No more pain and swelling — something had finally worked! I was able to fully recuperate and complete my time in Europe feeling healthier than ever. That’s when I realized that this bee stuff was magic.

When I returned home, I couldn’t find propolis anywhere, so I began apprenticing with a local beekeeper to ensure I never, ever had to go propolis-free again. I learned how to sustainably harvest propolis from the hives, and actually formulated my first Propolis Sprays in the chemistry lab at my university. And so, Beekeeper’s Naturals was born.

I never intended to start a business, I just wanted to support the bees and help people like me heal – so it all grew out of a very organic place.

In just a few short years, this little start-up has flourished beyond what I ever imagined. I was even recognized as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 entrepreneurs for 2019 — it’s unreal!

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For any who don’t know, what other substances do bees produce besides honey? What benefits are found in them?

Bees produce so much beyond honey! For one there’s propolis, which is an antioxidant-rich substance made from plant and tree resins, which function as the immune system of the hive. It contains over 300 beneficial compounds and helps to reduce inflammation and support immune function (in humans and bees alike). I take it daily to support immune health and digestion, but it’s especially effective when recovering from a cold or sore throat.

Then there’s royal jelly, the exclusive food of the queen bee. Royal jelly is extremely nutrient dense, and loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains numerous compounds that help to nourish the brain, support memory, and improve focus.

And of course, bee pollen is the bees’ main source of protein.

Bee pollen actually contains more protein per weight than any animal source!

It’s also full of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, and there is evidence to suggest that it may even help boost athletic endurance.


How have you seen bee products impact your health and the health of others?

Incorporating propolis into my routine has radically changed my immune system. I used to get terrible winter colds and struggle with chronic strep throat and tonsillitis. These days, I almost never get sick. I use propolis daily to support my body, especially during cold and flu season, while traveling, or when I am under a lot of stress. With our Propolis Throat Spray, I’ve seen propolis help so many customers to recover and reduce their frequency of getting sick.

Royal jelly is also a powerhouse healer (and my lifesaver for helping me to stay in the zone). I work a lot and am constantly traveling and changing time zones. The royal jelly and adaptogens in B.LXR help me to beat the jet lag and stay sharp without excessive amounts of caffeine. Lots of our customers use it for memory support, too.


From bee pollen to royal jelly, you have quite a variety of products - all with varying benefits! For anyone who has never tried bee products (other than standard honey) before, how should they determine what to try first?

It really depends on what they are looking for. For brain health, memory, focus, and productivity support, I recommend our royal jelly brain fuel, B.LXR. For all natural immune support, definitely go for the propolis. If you’re looking for a pre-workout protein and nutrient boost, bee pollen is your perfect snack. For sleep support and anxiety, raw honey has impressive natural calming properties, which we pair with hemp extract in our B.Chill Honey. For beautifying and all-around energy, I recommend our hive superfood complex, B.Powered, since it contains a powerful blend of all the foods of the hive (and it makes an amazing face mask).

You’ve made it a priority for Beekeepers to meet the rigorous standards of being a certified B-Corporation. Was it a difficult process to implement the practices required to be held to that level?

One of our core values at BKN is sustainability. Getting B. Corp certified was natural for us since we were already most of the way there. For instance, one of our biggest missions is to ensure that bees have access to clean foraging grounds far away from harmful pesticides, which is why all of our harvested ingredients and products undergo third party pesticide testing. This is a big deal. This testing allows us to ensure that there are no nasty pesticides getting into our hives and harming our bees — and definitely no nasty residual chemicals getting into our products. It’s a win for everybody.


What are some of your favorite recipes to add your products to?
  • I legit sprinkle bee pollen over every smoothie for an extra burst of nutrients. (I’m a bit obsessed.)

  • Our B.Powered honey works great for making salad dressings with olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic, and a little vinegar.

  • I don’t use refined sugars, so honey is my go-to sweetener for all baking. I especially love making a healthy chocolate mousse out of whipped avocados and our Superfood Cacao Honey — it’s so good!

You value sustainability very highly – not only in your beekeeping practices, but through your partnerships to help save bees from the drastic decrease in bee colonies. Can you share a bit about this issue, and how Beekeeper’s is taking action to help?

Bees play such a valuable role in our ecosystem – they pollinate ⅓ of our global food supply!

That’s why practicing sustainable beekeeping is so important to us, and it means putting the needs of the bees first. We take every precaution to keep our bees away from pesticides and give them access to plenty of clean foraging grounds. We take it a step further by partnering with leading research organizations like UC Davis Bee Research Facility and the Canadian Bee Research Fund to raise awareness. We even donate a portion of the profits from our Save the Bees apparel line towards bee research.


What are a few tangible ways we can help save the bees?

I love this question! When it comes down to it, saving the bees may seem like an overwhelming task, but it actually only requires a few small, actionable steps on your part:

1. Avoid pesticides. Don’t spray pesticides on your lawn, and support organic or local pesticide-free growers as often as possible. A lot of people don’t realize that what they buy at the grocery store really matters. To support bees, that means buying organic and pesticide-free as often as you can, buying raw honey products, and looking for brands that prioritize sustainability.

2. Plant flowers. Make sure your local bees have access to clean, nourishing food by planting a bee garden. Design a garden (even in a window box) with year-round blooms so your local bees have good stuff to eat all three seasons. It’s also helpful to create a little bee bath (like a mini version of a bird bath with a little landing rock in the center) so they have access to fresh water, too.

3. Spread the word. One of the most important things you can do is to educate others. The bees can’t advocate for themselves, so we have to do it for them. Get your friends and family to plant bee gardens so that clean bee habitats continue to grow in your neighborhood.

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What is your hope for the future of the wellness sphere?

I truly hope more wellness companies will start to favor authenticity and quality over profit. Natural substances can be powerful healers if you use them in their most pure and potent forms, but a lot of natural products don’t work that well, thanks to cheap filler ingredients and compromises on quality. I like to think that BKN is leading the way on that front.

Also, as wellness companies, I think we all have a responsibility to be stewards of our environment. I hope to see more people in the wellness sphere taking decisive environmental action, profits or not.

What have you learned from bees in your time studying and working with them?

Bees are ALL about collaboration. Each bee has a specific job, whether it’s protecting the young or working or foraging, and they do that job as well as they possibly can. With every bee contributing, the hive can accomplish some incredible things! What astounds me is that this is how our team at Beekeeper’s Naturals works too. Just like a hive, every single person on the team is incredibly positive and supportive, and we all do our part to contribute to the success of the company’s missions. A win for any one of us is a win for the entire hive! Honestly, thinking about the passion, talent, and enthusiasm my team brings to the table makes me tear up a little.

Photos courtesy of Beekeeper’s Naturals

Hanna Snyder

Communications Director at Yellow Co.

Hanna is a graphic designer and writer in Los Angeles, and the Communications Director at Yellow Co. Any story well told - whether through design, words, art, or food stirs her. As a romantic about nearly everything, she believes what we bring to our world deserves to be beautiful. Her love is endlessly exploring new ways to express our truest self, and has been trying to figure out her curls since birth.