How I Be(e)came a BeeKeeper!

I entered the field of beekeeping when I started making Botanical Body Care Products to treat eczema. Any skincare products I used that had parabens and chemicals sent my eczema flaring, and this was visible especially on my face!

I was spending thousands of Rand (ZAR) every month on dermatologists and changing from one product to the next, until I asked myself; "What did my illiterate, subsistence farmer grandmother use on her beautiful skin? What alternatives did she have in the absence of Clinique, Revive, Orlane Paris or Chantecaille?

The answer was, she used food! So I started doing a little bit of research on food based skin care, and there was a wealth of knowledge, ancient knowledge, some of it African and Ayurvedic wisdom on skincare, that had been lost!

So I started mixing my own cleansers, masks, toners and face + body + hair moisturizers from ingredients that were fit to be housed in my kitchen. What people do OR do not realize is that what we place on our skin, is absorbed into our blood stream. My motto is, if its good enough to ingest, it is good enough for my skin!

My favorite and most effective cleanser had to be raw honey! Honey (and other hive products - propolis and wax) have antibacterial and antioxidant properties. When I could feel a pimple emerging, I would tone and apply a honey mask to treat and prevent acne. I moisturize using beeswax and propolis. I also added coconut, baobab, marula, avocado and jojoba essential oils to my moisturizers as well as powdered nutmeg, aloe to my honey masks. My skin has never been happier and they work!

But the quality of honey in retails stores was inconsistent. I started noticing that from one jar of honey to the next, there were vast differences in results. So at a lunch party at The Yeoville Dinner Club, I met a passionate beekeeper Thembalezwe Mntambo, who educated me on "funny honey" and that many beekeepers were adding other ingredients to pure honey in order to stretch the product and to sell it at a more competitive price. So I bought five hives, and Thembalezwe started to mentor me on becoming a beekeeper.

Now I can verify the quality of honey I use on my skin and harvest my own wax and propolis - but the closer I got to a hive, the magical work of bees, I knew I had to delve deeper.

Together, Thembalezwe and I are growing the NYOC Organics business and we don't only sell raw honey and skin balms at artisanal markets, but we encourage all our patrons to also become beekeepers in their urban backyards and buildings, to help protect and conserve these magical be(e)ings!

So I urge you, to become or get to know an ethical beekeeper in your area, and to think twice about the products you use on your skin. If it's good enough to ingest, it's good enough for your skin.

Mulalo Tshikalange, Co-Owner of NYOC