This whole thing started on account of all the beeswax.

Burt Shavitz and Roxanne Quimby created Burt’s Bees in the early 1980s. In their former lives, Burt worked as a photojournalist in Manhattan, and Roxanne was an artist living in San Francisco. Each left behind the harried pace of city life to seek—and eventually find—freedom in the remote, pristine wilderness of Maine.

Roxanne the artist, Rufus the dog & Burt the beekeeper

Roxanne the artist, Rufus the dog & Burt the beekeeper

Roxanne the artist, Rufus the dog & Burt the beekeeper

Burt settled into a new life as the local “bee man” after finding a stray beehive and learning how to eke out a living selling honey. One day, Burt pulled over for a hitchhiking Roxanne in his schoolbus-yellow pickup truck, and the two hit it off. Burt was a resourceful guy; he’d been stowing away the surplus beeswax from his honey business, knowing it might eventually come in handy. Burt taught Roxanne about his bees, and she found a book of recipes which they used to turn their waxy bounty into things like candles (in 1984) and lip balm (in 1991—that one turned out to be a keeper).

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Burt’s original beehives were labeled “Burt’s Bees” so he could track them down if (ok, when) bee thieves carried them off.

Burt settled into a new life as the local “bee man” after finding a stray beehive and learning how to eke out a living selling honey. One day, Burt pulled over for a hitchhiking Roxanne in his schoolbus-yellow pickup truck, and the two hit it off. Burt was a resourceful guy; he’d been stowing away the surplus beeswax from his honey business, knowing it might eventually come in handy. Burt taught Roxanne about his bees, and she found a book of recipes which they used to turn their waxy bounty into things like candles (in 1984) and lip balm (in 1991—that one turned out to be a keeper).

Burt and Roxanne valued the simple life, and knew the importance and personal worth of staying connected to nature. Their lifestyle was low-impact, and socially and environmentally conscious. As back-to-basics, D-I-Y types, they were ahead of their time—their approach is as compelling now as ever.

Roxanne used to say that since we take from nature, we must respect and preserve it. Today, we follow in her and Burt’s footsteps by using the best ingredients from nature, and in turn respecting nature so we can all live well.

What Sets Us Apart

Burt (and his railroad hat) living the dream

Beeswax Candles: One of our first bright ideas

Our original lip balm—in terracotta pots!

Burt and Roxanne valued the simple life, and knew the importance and personal worth of staying connected to nature. Their lifestyle was low-impact, and socially and environmentally conscious. As back-to-basics, D-I-Y types, they were ahead of their time—their approach is as compelling now as ever.

Roxanne used to say that since we take from nature, we must respect and preserve it. Today, we follow in her and Burt’s footsteps by using the best ingredients from nature, and in turn respecting nature so we can all live well.

What Sets Us Apart

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

– Roxanne

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

– Roxanne

Safeguarding our wild spaces

You Are Here

You Are Here

You Are Here

Back to the Land

After selling her stake in Burt’s Bees, Roxanne began working to safeguard our wild spaces for generations to come. She started a philanthropic foundation, gave $90 million to charities, and bought over 87,000 acres of pristine Maine woodland that she then donated to the National Park Service. Consider this her standing invitation to get out there and explore.

More from Forbes

Safeguarding our wild spaces

Safeguarding our wild spaces

Roxanne recounts her journey in this episode of NPR’s How I Built This.

Give it a Listen

Burt’s Simple Life

When Burt left New York City, being surrounded by nature (including his bees and beloved golden retrievers) and living with less was his goal. He realized it by converting this 300-square-foot turkey coop into a cozy cabin home. (Who needs heat or electricity with those views?) It was his favorite place to be; he spent his last years on that land. After his passing, the cabin was moved from Maine to our Durham headquarters, so visitors can see just how freeing a downsized life can be.

BURT’S
TURKEY COOP

Burt and Pasha, taking it all in

SEE HOW
 WE MOVED THE COOP

I’m less interested in the inside of what I own, than the outside of what it sits on.

– Burt

Find your own open road

Watch

The Nature Of Burt

I’m less interested in the inside of what I own, than the outside of what it sits on.

– Burt

EXPLORE OUR HEADQUARTERS

We started melting and mixing beeswax in a ramshackle kitchen in Maine, grew into an abandoned schoolhouse, upgraded to bowling alley and finally pulled up stakes and headed south to North Carolina, where we settled into our current home—a former tobacco warehouse in the heart of downtown Durham.

Born in Maine

The Old Schoolhouse

The Bowling Alley

Planted in North Carolina

Planted in North Carolina

Planted in North Carolina

Welcome to Durham

Take a tour of our digs

Artist Matthew Willey painted our building’s buzzy mural.

Burt’s turkey coop-turned-home sits just outside our doors.

At just 300 square feet, the coop is a living-with-less landmark.

Once a tobacco warehouse, our HQ is now home to way-better-for-you products.

A living wall greens up the entryway.

Our Observation Hive is home to hundreds of local bees.

The bees use an outdoor entrance to come and go.

Our wide-open product lab, made possible by ingredients from nature.

A daily dose of wisdom.

No desk trash cans here—we have multiple trash sorting stations instead.

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