Bees will be bees – if only we stop destroying their habitat. Finnish company Sugar Daddies Co spreads the word of the plight of our pollinators in delicious – and smile-provoking – ways.
For passionate surfers, it’s all about the waves: how to find them, catch them – and keep them. Sugar Daddies Co partners Ville Rinta, Juho Wiberg, Jussi Peltoniemi and Eero Lähdesmäki found themselves wondering how to create a surf wax that’s as ocean-friendly as possible, to ensure their beloved hobby doesn’t harm the waters.
“Many of the existing waxes are made of paraffin, petrol or raw oil, and none of them are good alternatives for the environment,” Rinta explains. “We did a bit of research, and it turned out that beeswax could work.”
Soon, a few colonies of the black-and-yellow fellows moved in to live at the founders’ farm in Isokyrö, Finland. The goal was to create an excellent cold-water surf wax – which did work out. Now, Sugar Daddies is one of the biggest, if not the number one, surf wax producer in the Nordics, with primary markets where the waves are chilly, such as Norway, Ireland, Scotland and Canada.
However, that’s nowhere near where the story ends. As half of the four-strong team are farmers, they could spot the difference in their crop after the arrival of the bees.
“All plants just seemed to be much healthier, happier and tastier. That’s when it hit us: we should make honey.”
Where them girls at? In the hive
Currently, the Daddies have an unruly gang to guide: 20 million female bees. Come summer, the boy bees will be back, and the team will be even larger.
Sugar Daddies Co produces – or their bees do – different types of honey, all of which vary in taste and structure. Naked Honey, as they call it, comes from the DIY wooden homes built by the Daddies, and there’s no blending, heating, stirring or filtering. As the owners say: it’s closest you can get to enjoying honey straight from the combs.
“Straight from the combs” also means that all jars can be tracked to an individual nest. Although Rinta and his partners haven’t taken the time to name all the over 20 million bees (how dare they!), all queen bees have names, which will be printed on the labels in the future. The jars are sent out to stores around Finland, with Germany, Norway and the rest of Europe in the pipeline and North America looking promising.
The firm also sells Summerbuzzes to companies and people alike, meaning that for a season, one hive is dedicated to you or your firm. Businesses getting their share of the buzz can also come visit and meet the hard-working insects and hear stories about them from the Daddies.
Invisible yet oh so important
Spreading information with detailed labels and visitor tours is part of the company’s social responsibility efforts – and one of the reasons for its existence. Rinta points out that despite the publicity received by the issue globally, not everyone is aware of the huge impact of bees and pollinators on the entire ecosystem. Understanding how our choices can affect their livelihood – and therefore ours, too – can help people to make informed decision as they go about their daily lives.
“Bees’ work is so invisible that it can be easy to ignore,” Rinta notes. “But even in their invisibility, they’re of massive importance to us and the planet.”
Sugar Daddies Co has launched its own slogan, ‘Taking care of the little ones’, which can be extended to mean various other things as well. Every year, the company donates to a project that is for the benefit of the small, be it a children’s charity or a Movember campaign.
But it’s not all sugar and spice and everything nice; running a bee business is hard work, too, particularly when you’ve got a farm to run, children to look after and cold waves to catch on the side. One of the time-consuming projects is the development of a product similar to manuka honey, which Rinta believes will gather momentum once launched.
However, the bees are never a chore. If anything, they share a part of the workload.
“Next summer, we’ve got a watermelon field coming up,” Rinta reveals. “It’ll be interesting to see how having our millions of home pollinators will affect the quality and taste.”
The taste of summer and a healthy planet, that is.
This was first published by GoodNews from Finland in April 2019 – Text: Anne Salomäki
Photo: SUGAR DADDIES CO