Eastaboga Bee Co. is buzzing with more than just honey. The Calhoun County business is branching out with sweet-smelling new products, including lip balm, hand creams and soap.
Owner Justin Hill transformed his beekeeping hobby into a business five years ago to complement his beef cattle and horse farm. He quickly realized the beeswax could be used in products to sell alongside his honey.
“The lip balm was the first product, and then we wanted a balm for the hands. That turned into lotions, wood polishes, hand sanitizers, candles and soaps,” Hill said.
Creating the products has required some trial-and-error and a lot of patience, Hill said.
From choosing scents to determining which oils to add to the beeswax, Hill has perfected the formulas. The lip balm is flavored with peppermint. Hill uses lavender and orange in the lotions.
“It’s hard to pick a favorite product,” he said. “They’re pretty much all the same process to make. I like doing the ones with different scents.”
Eastaboga Bee Co. products are showing up across Alabama. Hill has sold lip balms with customized labels to companies for use in trade shows. Other products are sold at speciality stores, farmers markets and through direct orders generated by Hill’s website.
“It’s hard to really say which product is most popular,” Hill said. “The lip balm has been a good seller because I can sell it in bulk.”
Susan Smith, owner of Girlfriends Boutique in Oxford, sells a selection of Hill’s products.
“Eastaboga Bee Company’s lip balms, lotions and hand creams are always good sellers, and our customers seem to really enjoy buying local products,” said Smith. “I fully expect an increase in purchases during the upcoming holiday season.”
While Hill enjoys making the body care products, his primary focus is producing high-quality local honey.
“I have 41 hives. That’s probably somewhere around a half-million bees,” Hill said. “Most people who do the apothecary part of it don’t have anything to do with honey bees at all. This is a full functioning business. I don’t want anything to take a backseat to anything else. They’re all just as important.”