BeesBrilliance: The brilliance of honey

Photo Ana Galloway

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Honey may be nature’s perfect moisturiser, with a long list of beneficial properties that revitalises and regenerates our skin, but it’s also rather sticky.

Yet a Brightwater fourth-generation beekeeper has successfully turned his family-produced liquid gold into a range of skincare products that bypasses synthetics altogether and uses “all the good things from the beehive”.

There’s not much Matthew Cropp, founder of Bees Brilliance, doesn’t know about honey, and he knew with certainty that he was onto something special when he formulated his first batch of honey-based skin cream.

“The key thing is, it’s all natural,”
says Matthew.

“All honey is really good for your skin, obviously different types of honey have different benefits.”

Those benefits include antibacterial properties, particularly in Manuka honey, but honey is also an emollient, has approximately 18 amino acids – in particular proline which boosts collagen – and high levels of a number
of antioxidants.

Matthew and wife Julene established Bees Brilliance in 2014, after contract manufacturing skincare products for another company and being asked by a customer to produce a skin brightening range.

Matthew soon discovered he had a passion for the science behind honey’s health benefits, and expanded his formulas to include active ingredients from native plants.

“People are a lot more conscious about what they put on and into their bodies, so if we can take something that’s full of chemicals and make the natural equivalent, it’s quite rewarding. We’re creating something that’s unique in that it’s natural and it works.”

Now, Bees Brilliance has grown to a team of nine – “it’s a team effort, a bit like the bees in the hive” – and has also started producing highly concentrated pollen oil for use in its skin hydration range.

Honey and bees have been central to Matthew’s whole life, with the family tradition of beekeeping in the Nelson district stretching back to the 1890s.

Matthew says Nelson is the perfect place for bees, with high sunshine hours and “very vibrant floral sources”, both natural and horticultural, that make honey a sustainable and pure product.

He grew up watching his family tend beehives where being in the bush and extracting honey became second nature – although he vividly remembers his first bee sting.

“It dimmed my interest for a
few minutes.”

Despite this, Matthew learned the family trade, from painting the beehives to working the bees.

“It gave me a lot of knowledge and also it fostered my interest and passion about all things natural, and bees are a big part of that.”

Matthew’s career path hasn’t always been honey-related, but it has always been about a love for “things that fly”: He trained and worked as an aircraft engineer before returning to his first love, Bees and nature.

Although his focus is now on Bees Brilliance, Matthew uses honey from his family’s 5000 hives and still keeps “pet” bees, as much for his own enjoyment as to ensure the survival of bees in New Zealand.

Since the varroa mite arrived in New Zealand in 2000, the survival of New Zealand honey bees is totally reliant on beekeepers, he says.

“About 1/3 of the world’s farm produce has been pollinated by honey bees. We want bees that are healthy
and strong.”

September is Bee Month and Matthew hopes to raise awareness “that we need bees, and they need us and they only survive or exist with human help and care.”

Contact

beesbrilliance.co.nz

Phone: 03 542 3898