Have you heard about the dramatic population decline of honeybees? Over the past decade, there has been a radical decrease in honeybees, impacting both agriculture and wildlife, due to the loss of pollination. The change is alarming, as the survival rate of food depends on the honeybee’s pollination, and according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture the honeybee population has decreased 23% during the winter months since 2013. In an effort to curb the problem, President Barak Obama, the secretary of agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency developed a task force to get to the bottom of the population’s decline and devise a plan to prevent further bee loss.
Trying to do her part to save the bee population while simultaneously building her own business, Barbara Gettes, founder and creator of U-Bee-Well lip balms, is using some of the sales of her product to support local groups doing the hard work of trying to change the fortunes of the honeybees. “Without the bees, we would not be able to survive,” she says. Working closely with beekeepers at the Philadelphia Bee Keepers Guild and the Philadelphia Bee Company, Barbara sees this company as an opportunity to promote social change, giving 10% of the profits to the Queen Bee Rearing Initiative. “This is an easy way for people to give back: buy a balm, save a bee,” she says.
The lip balm retails for about $5-6 and can be found locally at Peddlers village Greenology Organic Living, Princeton’s Green design, and many Anthropologie stores. For the upcoming holidays, U-Bee-Well will also be releasing a limited edition salve, designed for both men and women.
Barbara works out of her Philadelphia home, producing on average about 500 lip balms per week. All of the essential oils found in the lip balms are USDA organic certified ingredients and bought from small independent farms in the United States and one in Australia. The five ingredients that make the lip balms include organic olive oil infused with calendula flowers, organic tea tree oil, organic lavender essential oil, beeswax, and honey.
Prior to starting the business, Barbara was touring around the world with her folk band, The Spinning Leaves where she became inspired by the farming and crafting movements throughout the United States. She never thought she would become an entrepreneur. “My heart was not in it until a few months after I had my baby.” But she became passionate about the idea that this business could help make a positive impact on the environment. “I really wanted to find a way to use the balms to make positive change, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Photo courtesy of Jasmine Tara