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The Real Burt: The Man Behind the Bees

by Burt’s Bees | 3 min read

Wild-bearded and free spirited, Burt Shavitz (1935-2015) was the real-deal namesake of Burt’s Bees. Known in his Maine neighborhood as The Bee Man, he contained multitudes. We fondly remember Burt as the man who taught us how to live simply and harmoniously with the natural world, embracing the minimalist lifestyle way back when.

Living Like Burt

Burt lived very simply in a tiny home before it was cool. His greatest treasures weren't the things he owned—they were his golden retrievers, sunsets and the forest right outside his door. That's why he was able to live happily in a 300-square-foot turkey coop-turned-cabin without electricity or running water.

"I'm less interested in the inside of whatever it is I own than the outside of what it sits on." – Burt Shavitz

Burt’s First Bees

Burt encountered a swarm of bees on a fence post six months after learning about beekeeping; the swarm became his first hive.

The Bee Man

Watch The Bee Man

For Burt, living a low-key existence meant selling his honey on the side of the road in Maine just to break even. He became recognizable in town for his signature yellow truck and white beard, and developed a steady stream of customers.

Not one to waste, he collected the beeswax from his honey-making and Roxanne (our other co-founder) eventually repurposed it into products like candles and a now-iconic lip balm. Burt met Roxanne hitchhiking one day and the rest is history

Selling Roadside Honey

Watch Honey Biz

One with Nature

Being a part of the land and living in harmony with his surroundings was an essential part of Burt’s life. In his tiny home, he had a front row seat to nature’s cycles, and considered it one of the main joys of life.  Flowers in nature

Watch Nature Doesn’t Wait

“Living on the land and having the opportunity to see the seasons is part of the joy of life.” – Burt Shavitz

Honoring Burt Today

To celebrate Burt's connection to bees, we partnered with artist Matthew Willey to create a commemorative mural on the outer walls of our office. Matthew founded The Good of the Hive Initiative, through which he has committed to painting 50,000 honeybees in murals around the world to raise awareness about the plight of the honeybee.

Matthew Willey’s buzzy mural.

The Observation Hive is another way we channel Burt's fondness for bees at our headquarters. We use this working beehive as an educational tool to bring people face-to-face with the simple creatures who supported Burt's livelihood and allowed him to thrive. As bee populations decline, educating people about the roles bees play on our planet is the first step to protecting these little pollinators.

We've also relocated Burt's cabin from Maine to our Durham, NC headquarters to serve as a reminder to all of us at Burt's Bees, and to all who visit our campus, about our roots in the simplicity of nature.

The Cabin

Watch how the cabin made its journey here

Burt was a complex man who sought a simple life in pace with the seasons of nature on his land. If there is one thing we will remember from Burt’s life, in our fast-paced, hi-tech culture, it’s to never lose sight of our relationship with nature.

Burt in nature

Watch The Nature of Burt

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