Hastings woman inspired to take up beekeeping after sudden death of artist friends

A beekeeper from Hastings has created her own skincare range inspired by her care for the insects.

Katharine O’Brien SUS-210528-102336001
Katharine O’Brien SUS-210528-102336001

Katharine O’Brien, 54, and founder of Bee Potion, spent 25 years as a therapeutic forest school teacher before swapping the birds for the buzz.

She said: “I started in forest school teaching, working with young people who had complex needs and weren’t connecting with traditional teaching.

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“My aim was to look at how to level children’s experiences and create emotional awareness through their interaction with nature.

“I ran a course in a girls school, working with a group to make a beauty parlour in the wood, using natural herbs to become one with nature by getting ingredients.”

This work, which saw Katharine set up a forest school program across 26 schools in Hastings would inspire her to harness the power of nature with her brand.

She trained as a beekeeper at 50, inspired to take up the profession by the sudden death of two inspiring female artists in Hastings; Angie Biltcliffe and Selina De Girolamo.

Katherine said: “I worked with Angie Biltcliffe as a community artist and was inspired by her work. She was a real matriarch of Hastings who sadly died back in 2011.

“I felt almost a spiritual calling to work with bees and use their life cycle as inspiration for the business’ ethos.

“Female beekeepers approach the process from a more philosophical angle than male ones. Typically, beekeeping is about controlling and suppressing the bees to extract what we want, but I wanted to find a middle ground of working with bees and supporting their growth while taking their ingredients as a means of thanks.”

Katharine and her team created Bee Potion as an ‘ode to the bees’.

She said: “We use minimal amounts of honey to create our products and promote natural beehives and beekeeping.

“It’s important that customers understand we care for the environment as much as them.”

Bee Potion is a Community Interest Company, meaning any profit it make goes straight back into the woodland apiary and therapeutic nature projects.