Saturday June 13:th is Global Wellness Day. We thought we should celebrate wellness by honouring the bee. The bee symbolizes for us the fact that we humans exist in an ecosystem. If some part of the ecosystem is not well, we humans will suffer too. The bee is an excellent teacher of this principle. Without this humble creature, we humans would be very challenged to survive. Think of all the things you eat in a day which have been pollinated by bees! Everything from apples and all other deciduous fruits, to tomatoes, pumpkins or brazil nuts. In fact, 80 % of the world’s pollination is performed by bees. The bees perform this service for us without charging us anything. It is a free gift, given as they seek nectar to turn into delicious honey which is also a skin softener of note and an ancient beauty aid. Honey is technically known as a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture from the air. So it is great to put on skin since it will aid the skin to naturally moisturize and is wellknown for its therapeutic qualities on dry skin or aged skin. Honey lotions are especially useful for diabetics since it is also a traditional anti-septic which helps to heal cuts and wounds in difficult places like toes. Beeswax is an ancient Khoesan cosmetic, still in use for everything from body butters to lipsticks. Bees also produce propolis, a sap they collect from tree buds to fix their hives with which has for centuries been lauded as a healing substance. They are truly an example of a gift economy which becomes the richer for sharing.
In light of the essential services performed by bees, it is very worrying that the world is confronting a bee crisis. Pesticides, herbicides, GMO’s and the disappearance of habitat is slowly causing the collapse of entire bee colonies. For instance, in the US it is calculated that some 60 % of bees are dying in winter, as opposed to a normal winter loss of 10%-15 %. (http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/genetic-engineering/Bees-in-Crisis/ ) In South Africa weakened bee colonies are falling victim to a viral infection called the Foul Brood disease, which is estimated to have killed off some 40 % of bees. If it doesn’t come under control this disease will threaten a R 20 billion agricultural industry. (http://mg.co.za/article/2015-04-16-honeybee-crisis-catches-sa-off-guard ) You can imagine if we had to hand pollinate our fruit and vegetables, food would rapidly become too expensive to eat. So the bee crisis is our crisis. It is a wake-up call to humans to say if we do not take care of our ecology we will not be well.
In the western Cape the bee crisis became particularly noticeable when the recent veld fires made many bees homeless. On the Khoelife farm they came right into the workshop, asking us to provide them with a home. So we are very proud and happy to say that we have found a beekeeper who has placed six hives in a corner of the place. If all goes well he will try to fit in more. The bees have settled in nicely, and because our garden is fully organic and – most importantly – flowers every month of the year, we are sure that they will be very happy here. For bees the important thing is not just how much food they have in the aggregate, but that there is food during the lean season. This stops them from having to eat their stored honey and means there is more for us. Right now the Elephant’s food is blooming (fittingly one of the most carbon-storing plants in existence) and the first of the aloes.
Next month it will be the turn of the very aptly named honey euryops, which does us nobly right through the time of the winter solstice, and indeed I appreciate its golden flowers which remind me that the sun will be coming back, almost as much as the bees! During its flowering season the bushes are so packed with bees that they positively hum.
And soon of course there will be the winter flowering buddleia (Buddleia auriculata) whose sweet smell haunts the garden, floating behind you as you pass. It is rare that the bees like fragrant plants but the buddleias are certainly an exception to this rule.
So at Khoelife we would like to honour the bee by launching our Shea Butter, Goat’s Milk and Honey Soap. All the expert soapmaker blogs will tell you that there is no such thing as the perfect soap, that different oils produce different outcomes and itr all depends on what you want from the final soap. It is of course one of the challenges which keep soapmaking interesting as one selects the one oil for bar hardness, the other one for lather, the third one for moisturizing and so on. Normally I am a slut for soap. My favourite one tends to be the one I am making at the moment. But the Shea Butter, Goat’s Milk and Honey Soap! Oh my word!! It was love at first sight, or should I say at first wash… It is so soft and gentle on the skin, almost as if one was washing with a lotion. But the combination of shea butter and beeswax makes for a nice hard bar which lasts forever, even though it is hard to stop washing with this soap.
In honour of the bee our Shea Butter, Goat’s Milk and Honey Soap is organic. We have not provided certified shea. This is a wild-harvested oil. The trees are never farmed since a Shea tree takes about fifty years to begin fruiting, so nobody could make money farming it. Since this is the case, we thought it very unlikely that anybody would ever take chemicals to a Shea tree and felt that it made no sense to make you pay double for the certified oil. But the soap is 80 % certified organic, containing certified coconut, olive and palm oils.
Unfortunately we have been unable to find certified organic goat’s milk. But I could not resist adding it since goat’s milk is another classic beauty aid which I felt belonged in this deeply traditional African soap. Goat’s milk has a unique Ph. close to that of human skin so is always useful to add to soap. It also contains oils which help to plump up the skin as well as alpha-hydroxy acids. AHA’s are anti-oxidants which combat free radicals, helping to slough off old skin cells and create beautiful skin. Of course in recent years international cosmetic houses sell you AHA’s at fantastic prices without telling you that it is an ancient beauty aid found in the humble goat’s milk.
In the case of this soap, I felt that it should stand alone and needed no fragrance to set off its excellences. So it is completely fragrance free for the most sensitive skin. I have added some powdered organic vanilla and powdered dried vetiver root from our own garden for a very slight exfoliation. Both vanilla and vetiver are natural emollients, meaning they assist the skin to retain water. So with the honey attracting moisture from the air and vanilla and vetiver keeping it in you can see why I absolutely love this soap.
But, just to add to its feel of luxury and abundance, in the spirit of wellness as our right and what we should expect as the norm is when we live a fulfilling life, I developed an accompanying moisturizer. Our new Shea Butter and Honey Lotion has all the good qualities of the soap, scented with some Rose Geranium, lemongrass, lavender and Neroli for the ultimate self-indulgence. It is equally organic and 80 % certified. So love yourself this weekend, or spoil a loved one, by joining us at Rodger’s Fruiterers in Kommetjie this Saturday and treating yourself to some of this handmade artisan soap made with renewable energy. Come celebrate global wellness with us by supporting the bee and spoiling your skin at the same time. Or order from us at enquiries.khoelife@gmail. com
It does not get better than this.