By Janice Smith ~ Janesce Skincare Founder
I think bees are some of the most precious little beings on earth. We can easily take these humble garden creatures for granted, but the role they play in pollinating plants is vital for global agriculture and food production. They are part of nature’s work force.
I have just come in from working in the Janesce garden at Claret Ash Farm and I noticed all the bees working out there. Normally the lavender flowers are a big drawcard for them at this time of year. They are not quite out yet, so the bees are making themselves busy with the profusion of flowers on our small rosemary bushes. They were so focused on their task they didn’t take any notice of me as I pulled the weeds out from around the plants.
This spring they have also been diligently working on the flowers of the Lucerne trees. We have these trees in abundance around the farm because they provide supplemental foliage for our sheep in times of drought. The bell-shaped white flowers have a very gentle fragrance and the bees just love them.
And of course, I am grateful to bees for honey – an important ingredient in the Janesce botanical skincare range. When we first came to Claret Ash Farm in the 1980’s, I set up a hive of bees. I knew nothing about bee keeping but I thought I’d learn as I went – and I did!
At the time, I was refining my skincare recipes and experimenting with the amount of honey I put into them. As is typical of me, I went for more rather than less. The original E.C. Lotion, my go-to eczema treatment, had so much honey in it it was in fact quite sticky.
I would wear it in the garden as a rich moisturizer. It took me three weeks to realise that the bees were following me around. And then came the first sting!! Right on the forehead. When the same thing happened the next day, I realized that the honey on my skin was attracting the bees. Once the bees began stinging my garden helpers, I had to pass the hive on to a new owner. So that is my one and only experience of keeping a hive.
Nowadays, we have a man supplying us the most delicious honey for use in Janesce skincare products. He has been beekeeping for over 40 years and he just loves his bees. He always has time for a chat when he delivers us his freshly harvested honey. He answers my questions and tells me stories about his bees and their antics.
I was worried that, due to the drought this past year, there would be a shortage of honey. But this man has hives in many areas around our state and he travels miles to gather it. Because of this he has plenty of honey. Many other beekeepers concentrate on the areas closer to home and unfortunately this has meant they have very little to sell at the moment.
I am grateful we have partnered with someone who loves bees as much I do and that we have all the honey we need to make our Janesce skincare products.
This was going to be a very short account of bees on Claret Ash Farm but I’ve got carried away…