Living Well with Carly Stein
Carly Stein is the founder and CEO of Beekeeper's Naturals, a natural health product company that develops innovative bee-made nutraceuticals to provide effective solutions to modern health problems.
During a college semester abroad in Europe, Carly developed a serious bout of tonsillitis. With no options to heal, and refusing to cut her exchange short, Carly wandered into an Italian pharmacy in search of a remedy and was given a mystery substance recommended to her in broken English called propolis. Using propolis, Carly made a quicker recovery than she could have imagined and went on to incorporate royal jelly, bee pollen, and all of the hive superfoods into her daily routine. In a short time, she saw health improvements across the board. She was a bee-liever and as soon as she completed her studies, she hit the apiaries to get close with the bees.
Carly is committed to using her company as a platform to raise awareness and funding for the bee cause and promoting sustainable practices and pesticide-free beekeeping. Before founding Beekeeper's Naturals, Carly worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs in their Securities division and spent time working at the William J. Clinton Foundation.
Today, Carly shares about her harmonious & intimate relationship with the bees, the incredible healing benefits of bee medicine, and her leap from the corporate world to beekeeping. Enjoy this inspiring share!
What are your favorite forms of nourishment?
Bee-made superfoods are everyday staples for me. I start every morning with a teaspoon of our Beekeeper’s Naturals Bee Powered, which is a combination of honey, propolis, bee pollen, and royal jelly. It's the ideal, pre-workout ritual for giving me an energy boost fueled by protein, antioxidants and vitamins.
Beyond bee products, I try to eat mostly plant-based foods, and I do my best to have something green on my plate at every meal. I stock up on organic produce, and only free-range, sustainably sourced protein. I'm a big believer in supporting local and organic producers—for my wellbeing and for the health of the bees!
To nourish my mind, I have a meditation practice (emphasis on the word “practice”). My entrepreneurial instinct always urges me to wake up and tackle my inbox right away. But instead, I’ve been trying to reach for my Muse Headset to squeeze in 7 minutes of meditation first thing. Then I jot down three things I’m grateful for. I don’t always have the willpower to keep my hands off the devices first thing in the a.m.. Some days my 7 minutes is clouded by a looming to-do list, but hey, the intention is there. Like any sort of “practice”, it gets easier over time. Maybe one day I’ll make it to 10 minutes! In the meantime, I try to infuse every spare moment with mindfulness, whether that means really savoring my meals or giving our bees my full, undivided attention at the apiary.
What are the medicinal benefits and uses of raw honey & propolis?
Propolis has been termed “nature’s antibiotic” across countless cultures for thousands of years. Bees use propolis to disinfect their hive from all sources of bacteria, but it’s also super beneficial for humans! Propolis is my favorite way to get an immune boost and speed up my recovery time if I’m feeling sick. It contains over 300 beneficial compounds. Plus, it’s anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and loaded with antioxidants. As someone who grew with up constant sore throats and colds, propolis has been a game-changer for my overall health and quality of life.
Raw honey contains about 27 minerals and 5,000 enzymes that make it the healthiest sweetener on the market. A little known fact is that you can also use honey as a sleep hack because it’s high in amino acids, including one called tryptophan. The slow, steady spike in insulin from the honey allows the tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier where it’s converted from serotonin to melatonin, making it the best natural sleep aid. Bonus: How could you not have sweet dreams if you eat a teaspoon of honey right before bed!?
Tell us about your relationship with the bees. How do you create harmony with them?
I found the bees out of absolute necessity when I contracted tonsillitis while studying abroad in Italy as a college student. My body rejects antibiotics, so if I couldn’t find an alternative way of healing myself, I would have to return home to have surgery. I really, really wanted to stay in Italy (of course!), so I headed to an Italian pharmacy where I had my first ever run in with Propolis. My life changed that day. Within two weeks, I was good as new and obsessed with everything bee-related.
After that, I began to understand the integral relationship that bees have with the ecosystem at large, and I wanted make an impact that would help these important creatures thrive. Beekeeping was the easiest way to gain a greater understanding of the bees and I just ran with it! The hive is a beautifully complex organism that continues to fascinate me.
We know about honey but what are the other superfoods made by bees?
Yes! The bees are superfood connoisseurs. Besides honey and Propolis, they also produce pollen and royal jelly. At Beekeeper’s Naturals, we call pollen our “fit fuel.” It’s a powerhouse ingredient containing protein, B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that sets you up for a killer workout. Royal Jelly supports brain health, boosts your immune system, floods your body with probiotics to promote A+ digestion, improves collagen levels, and so much more! That’s why we made it a key ingredient in our B.LXR Brain Fuel nootropic.
What originally inspired your leap from the corporate world to beekeeper?
When I came home from my semester abroad I connected with a local beekeeper who helped me find people who needed help managing hives, and I gladly volunteered. I started working with bees and making my own products, but I had no intention of starting a company.
After graduation, I went into finance and quickly got sucked into that career path. I was pretty dedicated to my career, but my mind always drifted towards the bees in idle moments. I looked forward to the weekend because I knew that meant bee time! Eventually, I could no longer ignore the potential impact of the compounds I was extracting from the hive. I knew what the bee’s had to offer was too precious not to be shared. So once I became sure that I could sustain the company, I made my side-hustle my full-time gig!
What are your non-negotiables- the rituals that keep you balanced & well?
Exercise is a non-negotiable for both my mental and physical health. Whether its a run, a brisk walk, or a yoga class, it’s the one thing I incorporate into every single day (apart from the bees!). I re-calibrate and get out of my head through movement.
How do you find balance with your personal & professional life?
Balance is definitely a work in progress for me (and anyone with a startup), but I try to carve out time for one thing a day that has nothing to do with Beekeeper’s. Something that’s all about me. Some days that's a 20 minute walk on the beach between meetings; other days its yoga. I still take the occasional rain check, but I’m learning that stepping back to recharge usually helps me problem solve later.
What are your favorite ways to unplug?
I unplug by getting into nature. I love hiking, rock climbing, surfing, and—of course—beekeeping. The last one often surprises people, but working with the bees is one of the most meditative practices I have. There's something about being in nature and immersing myself in the world of another creature.
Who are some women who have inspired your life & work
I surround myself with so many inspiring women that it's hard to narrow down my list! I believe in cultivating supportive relationships, and I think there’s real power when women come together to share and support each other. Here are a couple of the most inspiring females in my life:
My bubby Netty
My bubby Netty on my mother’s side is one of the brightest people I know. She has a background in science and nutrition and a work ethic like none I’ve ever seen before! There’s nothing this lady can’t figure out. When she lost her husband early in life, she was left a widow with four children who had to quickly figure out how to make ends meet. She turned away help, put her head down, and began teaching herself finance after her little ones went to bed for the night (During my time at Goldman my bubby was always one of my favorite people to chat about the state of the market with!).
A few years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer. Given her age (she’s 93 now), the outcome was not looking promising. She endured chemo with a smile on her face, and kept a stern voice that let us know she had no intention of giving up. Against all odds, she survived—much like she did as a mother. During times of adversity, she’s unstoppable. She navigates challenges with grace knowing that she still has so much to offer the world. Her selflessness continues to amaze and inspire me.
My Boubie Ester
My grandmother on my father's side (Boubie Ester) lost her parents in the Holocaust. She cared for her little sister and lived a life of exile until she eventually found herself in an orphanage in Belgium. She saw every atrocity of her time, and yet, she made her way to Canada where she entered university, became a scientist, and later cared for four children of her own. Today she’s still playing chess with her grandkids, rocking Elizabeth Taylor-esque couture, and encouraging all of us to have intelligent, thoughtful conversations. Plus she spoons Bee Powered like a champ!
Any tips or tools you'd like to share on building & growing a business ??
Turn your challenges into opportunities. Nothing feels better than doing the “impossible.” In my opinion, there’s nothing you can buy and nowhere you can go that will give you the lasting confidence of doing the thing you thought you would never be able to do. There are only two outcomes: you fail and learn something important or you succeed and create something amazing.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about honey or beekeeping that you wish people would know?
1. Bees make way more than just honey. As I said above, each bee hive provides a wealth of superfoods. Raw Honey is just one!
2. Honey is the only food on the planet that never expires. Researchers just discovered raw honey in a tomb in Egypt that was still ready to be smeared on a peanut butter and honey sandwich (yes, really!).The hardening (or crystallizing) of raw honey is a natural process that occurs in different rates depending on a variety of factors such as storage conditions, floral source, and ratio of glucose to fructose.
If you want to use crystallized honey for baking, you can fill a pot with hot water and place your jar in it for a few minutes to soften the honey. Raw honey will outlive all of us, so don’t be scared off by a more solid consistency. Extra pro tip: Make sure you get all the superfood benefits by buying only raw and unpasteurized honey!
3. Don’t fear the bees! These insects are true friends to the human race. They work hard to put food on our tables and cover our environment with flowers. Honeybees are typically docile, and they’ll only attack to protect themselves and the hive if provoked. When a female bee stings a human, her barbed stinger gets stuck in our flesh, which rips out her abdomen and kills her. Unlike wasps, who can repeatedly sting and fly away unscathed, every bee sting ends in a dead bee. If you see a one hovering around you, just leave her to her business. If you don’t swat at her, she’ll leave you bee (ha!).