A Palmer woman is making a business from her bees, but she’s not just collecting honey and selling it. Dee Barker is using both wax and honey from her hives to make a line of natural body-care products.
Barker and her husband own Earthworks Farm, a historic colony farm in Palmer. The couple raises organic vegetables and flowers, but about five years ago Barker decided to try her hand at bees. Bees are a love, she said, that started as a little girl when her grandfather raised them in Pennsylvania.
Barker holds a doctorate in chemistry, a subject that she taught at the University of Alaska Anchorage for several years. But bees were something new and Barker said there was plenty of trial and error in the beginning. Eventually, she felt comfortable enough to start experimenting.
Barker began collecting what is called “burr comb” wax from her hives, melting it down and combining it with honey and other natural oils. She said honey has a natural tendency to attract water, so it works well in a moisturizing cream. Natural products in the wax have anti-microbial qualities that can help skin to heal.
“I have so many reports coming back that it’s helped people,” Barker said. “It’s not just for wrinkles let’s say, but people have said that it’s healed their skin.”
Barker calls her company Abeille Alaska, which means “honey bee” in French. She started with a deodorant and moisturizing cream, then expanded into other products like lip balm and a lotion bar. She’s also dabbling in perfumes. All of her products are made in small batches by hand with limited ingredients that are all natural.
Barker sells her products online at her Earthworks Farm website as well as at local farmers’ markets in Anchorage.