Be more bee
Many companies emerging from lockdown have changed in some way: Bee Potion, formerly run by Katharine O’Brien as a sole trader, became a community interest company (CIC).
This was to help integrate her two interests, working with children and working with bees. Bee Potion produces multipurpose skincare products inspired by bees, but Katharine’s background is in forest schools, providing therapeutic support for teenagers, an interest she continued by facilitating courses with her therapy dog, Honey, through Egg Tooth (See Issue 156 Help Build a Nest for the Egg!)
Her vision is for her beauty products to support her work with children, and being a CIC will allow her to do that: she is about to be awarded £4,000 in funding from Hastings Opportunity Area to run an Autumn wellbeing course in the woods for year 10/11 students in their GCSE years at Hastings Academy.
This course is partly inspired by a previous course for teenage girls called Beauty in the Woods. She had them build an outdoor beauty parlour to promote the link between nature and beauty – it doesn’t just come from a tin.
Bee Potion is a perfect starting point because of the therapeutic effect of working with bees and the healing effect of bee products. And these are no ordinary bee products. The honey isn’t heat-treated, so the pollen remains and the honey keeps its amazing medicinal qualities, and “There’s no agricultural crop farming in a three-mile radius from where the bees forage, keeping the honey as pure as possible for our potions.”
Katharine is as passionate about her work with children as she is about her products. She explains that working with bees benefits disadvantaged children because it demonstrates the interconnectedness of life: children often have “poor self-esteem, and a weak sense of self”. Ecology helps them “make sense of themselves and where they fit in society”.
She says they come along to the courses littering and swearing, but after a few sessions they “just want to cook over the fire and share things with each other”.
Studying bees up close also takes courage, Katharine says. “It helps develop resilience by giving them inner confidence. They see that tiny creatures have power – they can sting! – and this shows that they can have power too. They experience awe and wonder but also a sense of guardianship.”
Katharine will be on the Pier selling her products until October. Anything you buy supports her bees and her well-being woodland programmes and is also good value. Talking about the skincare range, she says it is “created with a little alchemy and a wonderful mix of amazing bee ingredients, skin protein butters, vitamin rich oils and essential oils. … You can say goodbye to using four products when one of ours will do!”
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