Western Australian jarrah honey finds new value in skincare products

Western Australian honey bee products find their way into a diverse range of products and businesses as the reputation and value of the industry grows.

Up to $50 million worth of honey, wax and pollen products are produced each year in Western Australia.

In the five years to 2020, Western Australian honey exports have increased by around 200 tonnes, while the total value of this product has almost doubled.

Part of this added value is due to the efforts of the Center for Cooperative Honey Bee Products Research. In addition to research, the organization helps with business development through honey hackathons and regular bee meetup groups.

A hackathon is an event where people work together to test and develop ideas in a purposeful way. The concept is borrowed from the technology industries, the name being a portmanteau of “hack” and “marathon”.

It was following one of these events that Dani and Figge Boksjo started a business manufacturing quality skincare products using local active honey.

“That’s where the idea came from. We thought we’d do something that really adds value to the honey at $5 to $10 a kilo… [it] can become a very, very good margin on it…and that’s where our skincare products came in,” Boksjo said.

Dani and Figge Boksjo create skincare products from Western Australian honey.(ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Lucinda Jose)

The couple moved from Sydney’s northern beaches to Yanchep near Perth four years ago, immediately seeking involvement with CRC for Honey Bee Products and the local beekeeping industry.

At the time, Ms. Boksjo, who had a bachelor’s degree in food science and technology but had no experience in beekeeping, first thought of using honey in a food product.

“She used to mash avocado with honey to make hair masks, clay face masks.

“And her skin was just fabulous and glowing, and I was like, ‘Wow, this is what I’m going to do.'”

The company now manufactures six skincare products using active Jarrah honey and employs two people part-time.

A range of small medicinal-looking bottles.
Beauty products based on bee and plant products.(ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Lucinda Jose)

Jarrah honey is particularly prized for its medicinal qualities, which Mrs. Boksjo attributes to its high levels of peroxide.

“Bees have an enzyme inside their bodies. They convert the source of nectar into peroxide, so it’s a natural peroxide in honey, and that’s how honey is classified in medicine – it’s call TA quality,” she said.

Other ideas emerging from hackathon events include the use of bee venom and the project to grow native leptospermum trees, whose flower is essential for creating honey with medicinal qualities such as those found in manuka honey.

A woman with short brown hair is sitting at a table and looking at containers of honey
Liz Barbour says Australia is free of bee diseases.(ABC News: Hugh Sando)

CRC for Honey Bee Products Managing Director Liz Barbour said WA is free of bee diseases that require chemical control, allowing local beekeepers to produce some of the purest honey in the world.

“So we have to celebrate it while we can.”

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