Witnessing the life changing impact bees have had on her mum’s chronic pain condition, Kaya Malinowska is on a mission to spread the therapeutic benefits as far afield as possible.
Originally from Poland, Kaya, 24, and her mum Anna, who suffers from fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body, moved to Westhill in Aberdeenshire, setting up their own family beekeeping business from their kitchen worktop in 2018.
Small but mighty like the bees they keep, their business Carnie Bees is creating a stir with products like honey, beeswax candles, immunity tea and bee pollen, a superfood sprinkled on cereal, proving popular.
But that’s not all, Kaya and her mum are also huge advocates of Apitherapy, an alternative therapy that uses products made by honeybees for medicinal purposes.
Seeing at first hand the effect Apitherapy has had on the migraines and muscle pains Anna suffers with as a result of her fibromyalgia, Kaya says they are determined to open a bee sauna.
Popular in countries like Romania and Slovenia, the saunas pump in air from bee hives which are said to have therapeutic benefits such as soothing the nerves, improving heart activity, regulating breathing and reducing hyperactivity.
Intrigued by their growing bee business, Society chatted with Kaya to hear all about how they are harnessing the power of bees.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I’m Polish and in 2012, myself, my mum Anna and my brother Oskar moved to Aberdeen. It was me who convinced my mum to move here because I initially wanted to learn English to be able to study law in America. I was 13 at the time so it was an enjoyable but challenging transition. It was difficult getting to grips with the language especially as I was never taught English at school in Poland, I studied German instead. But we settled down and Aberdeen is my home.
How did the idea to make honey come about?
I’m a big honey lover. I used to eat about a kilogram of honey a month, it was ridiculous. My mum wouldn’t let me eat honey from the shop because most of it is just sugary syrup not honey. So my mum was buying it from local beekeepers. One day she decided that instead of spending a large amount of money buying honey from other people, she decided to make her own and started beekeeping. So we started selling honey to our friends and family and the interest started growing. My mum then asked me if I could help her out and Carnie Bees was launched. After studying marketing at Robert Gordon University I decided to make Carnie Bees my only source of income and my only focus.
What makes your honey so good?
We don’t process or filter our honey in any way. We don’t heat it up either so all the nutritional values and the enzymes stay within the honey. It still contains bee pollen and propolis which are two other substances within the hive that have health benefits.
What flavours of honey are popular?
Some of our flavours include raspberry, strawberry, sour cherry, cacao, lemon and ginger and apple and cinnamon. We recently added a vanilla flavour which contains a vanilla pod from Madagascar. It’s a Grade A vanilla, it’s really good quality. We also make nettle honey from foraged nettles and we also make charcoal honey which is very detoxifying. It’s pure black so because of the colour some people just take a spoonful or they drizzle it for a black effect on certain foods.
We’re fascinated by your plans for a bee sauna, tell us more?
Countries like Romania and Slovenia have Api houses which have bee ventilation systems so the air from the bee hive comes into this little house. It’s basically like a sauna so you go in, breathe in the air and its meant to have many therapeutic benefits such as relaxation and it can help with anxiety. We hope to build one quite soon which people will be able to book.
Other than honey, what else do you produce?
We make candles out of beeswax so once we extract the honey from the frames and then we melt the frames into candles. It’s quite a long process as the cleaning of the wax takes multiple hours but beeswax is the purest form of wax that’s why we use it for candles. Studies show it’s air purifying whereas other candles when they burn they are quite toxic especially paraffin candles.
You also make loose tea?
Yes, my mum makes a blend of loose tea, an immunity tea, made out of things we forage ourselves such as linden flower, rosehip, raspberries and chokeberries. We source everything ourselves apart from hibiscus which we import because it’s very hard to grow in the country.
Bee pollen has also provided popular hasn’t it?
Yes it’s little tiny granules of pollen which you can sprinkle on your food like yoghurts, salads and porridge. You can also make an immunity shot out of it with some honey and lemon. That’s perfect before a workout because bee pollen helps with endurance and it gives you energy. It’s like a natural energy drink.
Bee sting therapy is also a thing?
Yes, my mum actually swears by bee stings. It’s still quite fresh in terms of the studies done on bee stinging but there’s evidence to show that bee stings can help with joint inflammation. It’s a therapy that has helped my mum and she also says that the air around the bee hive has also helped her nervous system.
Where can people find your products?
We’ve been focusing on farmer’s markets but cafes and shops have also started selling our products such as Refillosophy in Aberdeen’s Albyn Grove and in Marshalls Farm in Kintore. We also sell it online.
Do you have plans for the future?
We want to expand out with Aberdeen. The next year we’ll be focusing on Aberdeenshire and getting into more smaller shops around that area.
What do you do when you’re not around bees?
I love spending time in nature so I enjoy gardening and I also love hikes, walks and travelling. After leaving school I took a two year gap year to travel a bit. I went bag packing to south east Asia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore. It was an amazing experience.