The Magic of Propolis
It’s incredibly important to have an arsenal of products you trust when it comes to maintaining your health. More specifically, your immunity. Carly Stein Kremer, CEO and creator of Beekeeper’s Naturals, was on the hunt for a better solution to help battle her on-and-off tonsillitis. She struck gold when she found relief in propolis, a combination of tree and plant resin created by bees to protect the hive.
Since Beekeeper’s Naturals launched, the brand has evolved with products that help with focus, brain fog, and gut health. And in addition to giving the conventional medicine cabinet a clean sweep, Beekeeper’s Naturals is dedicated to raising awareness and creating a better environment for our world’s most important pollinators—bees.
Here, we spoke with Carly about how propolis supports immune health and helps heal inflammation, the science behind royal jelly, the challenges of growing a thriving business, and the intricacies of bees.
How did you discover the powerful healing magic of bee propolis?
As a kid, I struggled with chronic tonsillitis and immune issues. Over the years, I felt frustrated with the pseudoscience and lack of efficacious options. That experience shaped the way I’ve built my products and company – prioritizing natural, sustainable, clean ingredients and science-backed formulas that actually work.
I learned about the medicinal properties of bee products while I was studying abroad in Europe. I had this incredible experience with propolis while I was over there – it cured my particularly bad case of tonsillitis and saved me from having to fly home for surgery. When I returned home, I discovered that I couldn’t find propolis anywhere. I knew that I couldn’t go back to living without it, so I began apprenticing with a local beekeeper to learn how to sustainably harvest propolis for myself, and I formulated the first iteration of our Propolis Throat Spray. My friends and family loved it as much as I did, and word traveled fast. After a couple of years of working on Wall Street, I decided to leave that behind, and run with my wild dream of creating clean, hive-powered remedies, and that’s how Beekeeper’s Naturals began.
Can you share the buzz behind bee propolis? Give us the lowdown on why this is medicinal and how it helps support our health.
Propolis is a protective substance that bees make by collecting plant and tree resins. The result is a sticky substance that is used to line the hive walls. Because it is packed with powerful phytochemicals that protect against germs, viruses, and intruders, it essentially functions as the hive immune system.
Propolis is well known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Thanks to its unique makeup of 300+ beneficial compounds, promising studies have demonstrated that propolis has benefits in immune support, cold/flu/respiratory infections, counteracting oxidative stress, oral health, acne/skin healing, and reducing overall inflammation. It is also rich in antioxidants, making it a useful ally in countering day-to-day stress and free radical damage. We especially recommend it for air travel because of this. When flying commercially, you’re bombarded by free radicals, thanks to a small amount of solar radiation exposure. For frequent flyers, this can pose a health risk over time. To prevent free radical damage on a cellular level, it is crucial to boost the intake of antioxidants.
What is the science behind Beekeeper’s Naturals Brain Fuel and how can we use this to support our brain health?
Beekeeper’s Naturals Brain Fuel is an all-natural formula built to help with focus, memory, and concentration. One of its main ingredients, royal jelly, has been well-studied when it comes to neurological effects – a study from the University of Warsaw found that the consumption of royal jelly increases spatial reasoning. Royal jelly is one of the only naturally occurring sources of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter responsible for the brain-body connection, so it helps support the overall transmission system.
Royal jelly contains two powerful fatty acids, Amp N1 Oxide and 10HDa, which act as catalysts for neurogenesis, meaning they help your brain create new, healthy neurons. We also use two plant-based adaptogenic ingredients: bacopa monnieri plant extract, which may enhance brain function by supporting the brain’s ability to learn and retain information, and ginkgo biloba leaf extract, which boosts blood flow to the brain and may help with learning, focus, and memory.
Why is sourcing good bee pollen so important? What should we be looking out for?
Bee pollen is literally coming from the pollen of plants, which means limiting pesticide exposure is very important. Working with companies that are committed to clean, high-quality pollen delivered from a bio-diverse landscape will ensure that you are getting proper nourishment and limited exposure to chemicals. At Beekeeper’s Naturals, we focus on a few key questions when sourcing bee pollen:
- Is the pollen raw? The more heat that is applied to pollen, the lower the enzyme content. Since the enzymes are pretty exceptional, we want to preserve those as much as possible.
- Is the pollen coming from a monocrop? Monocropping is the practice of growing only one crop year over year on the same land, which can lead to a food desert for bees when that crop is not in bloom. At Beekeeper’s, we look for pollen coming from varied plant sources, which allows for a better diet for the bees, and ensures our pollen comes from clean and biodiverse habitats.
You, yourself, are a beekeeper. Is there anything that has surprised you about beekeeping process?
I love beekeeping, and I’m constantly surprised by the intricacies of these creatures. It’s amazing how gentle bees are and how responsive they are to your demeanor. One of the ways they communicate is through scent. So if you are at a hive and your overall demeanor is tense or nervous, the bees will pick up on this. Beekeeping puts me in a state of zen because I know the bees will respond to the energy I bring. I love how meditative the entire practice is.
Tell us more about bee populations rapidly declining due to unsustainable habitations and pesticide use. How have you made it your mission to help solve these issues?
At Beekeeper's Naturals, we always talk about the three P's when it comes to our mission - People, Planet, Propolis. Our platform is all about advocacy and we work with incredible organizations, like the UC Davis Honey Bee Research Facility, that help us learn more about how to support bees and their habitats. Another way we aim to protect these creatures is through our sustainable supply chain, where we practice pesticide-free beekeeping through all the apiaries we work with. Neonicotinoid pesticides are one of the major reasons why bees are dying, and our remote apiaries offer the bees plenty of room to roam and pollinate without running into these harmful pesticides.
What have been your biggest hurdles in growing the brand?
One challenge along the way has been the limitations that come with only being willing to work with apiaries in sustainable environments. Sometimes there are certain environments that we just can't work with. We have been able to build up a sustainable supply chain that focuses on pesticide-free beekeeping, and we are optimistic about leading this change across the industry and creating a standard where pesticide-free is the norm.
What does the future look like for Beekeeper's Naturals?
We're really focused on expanding our product offering. We are all about creating solutions for everyday issues, and our customer base is very vocal when it comes to what they'd like to see next. We have some really exciting products coming to market over the next year.
As an advocate in the natural health world, what does your personal wellness routine look like?
For me, meditation is really important. It's how I take care of my mental health. Even a few minutes a day makes a huge difference. I'm also a propolis power user – from my glove compartment to my carry-on, to my medicine cabinet. Four sprays of propolis a day has helped me to stay well, even with my busy lifestyle.
I also try to make a number of my meals plant-based, and I pay close attention to ingredient sourcing and quality. I like to buy organic, which helps me reduce my own pesticide exposure.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who want to pursue their dreams?
Don't be scared of failure – welcome it. Every moment of failure is an opportunity for growth, and success involves much more failure than the public sees. Don't waste time on comparison, and don't beat yourself up when you fall short in certain areas. The most important muscle to strengthen as an entrepreneur is resilience. Keep getting back up and push yourself to learn new things.