by Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley ’05
It all started with a bee hive. In a chimney, of all places.
“We removed more than 200 pounds of honey and somewhere around 60,000 bees,” says Peter Rountree ’06. “I didn’t want to displace this thriving colony so I started managing them. From there it just grew. And grew. It got a little out of control, actually.”
Today, Rountree keeps more than 75 hives in Boulder County, Colo., and is the proprietor of Uncle Pete’s Bees, an all-natural “personal primping products” company devoted to protecting Boulder’s bee population. From the byproduct of his honey harvest, Rountree makes all-natural lip balm as well as handcrafted moustache wax for the “sophisticated brute.”
“After I’d been taking care of the bees for a while, I made some lip balm from their bees wax, and I gave it to my friends as a holiday gift. Everyone loved it,” says the young entrepreneur, whose honey won a blue ribbon at the Boulder County Fair this year. “I realized I could make a sustainable, local product and earn enough to support my bee habit.”
Months of rigorous testing followed, as Rountree and his friends purposely chapped their lips on the ski slopes so they could test-drive different formulas. “A lot of the bees wax balms on the market are very spicy or have an intense peppermint flavor,” he says. “I wanted mine to be subtle and smooth.”
He settled on an all-natural mix of his own wax blended with shea butter, lanolin, vitamin e and several essential oils. “It’s all local or purchased sustainably,” says Rountree. “And I believe it’s the most effective balm on the market for cold-weather sports.”
“My products are in many stores locally and my honey is served at select fine dining restaurants,” says Rountree. “The bees are facing a very harsh environment, and I’m constantly adapting my techniques to meet their needs. It’s been an extremely busy few years but it feels good to grow my business while directly affecting the local ecosystem.”