Burt’s Buzzzzzzzzy Bees


Many times I write about things that have nothing to do with cycling. Maybe my being all over the place leaves me without a strong following, but I have to write about what peeks my curiosity. After all, life has so many interesting pieces. How could I limit my vision to one area?

Burt Shavitz is real. He’s a laid back, cool old man who lives in a refurbished turkey coop and loves his golden retrievers. An accomplished photographer of Malcom X and published in Life magazine. Burt’s Bees started out as a bee removal service, after Burt retreated from the city into a primitive life and learned how to handle bees from an older gentleman. Burt lived off the grid in the 1970’s and soon built up a 27 bee hive community. He was content and sold his honey in jars to neighboring people.

In the early 80’s he picked up a hitchhiker and everything changed. Her name was Roxanne Quimby. To kindred souls of oddity and anti-establishment, the two became lovers. One thing lead to another, and the two used the honey to make beeswax candles with 19th century recipes and craft fairs couldn’t get enough of them. Soon the candles were noticed by a store in New York. Years and millions of dollars later, Roxanne and Burt see things differently. Yada yada yada, there is a split and Roxanne eventually buys out Burt’s part of the company for a house worth $130,ooo; then she sold her stake in the company for $150 million. Later, it was determined that Burt was thrown $4 million for good measure. The story has somewhat of a Steve Jobs taste to it.

Today, Burt Shavitz’s face is still on the product that has recently been sold to Clorox for a smidgen over $925 million. Burt makes appearances for the company and jokes about the hysteria he causes. Back at his home in rural Maine, he still loves to feed the birds and chop wood, while he is never at a loss about discussing how blessed his life is. It’s not about the money. Money can’t buy that kind of contentment.


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