CATHERINE Clark lives a life many would call idyllic.

Once working in the pressurised world of law, she left it all behind to work with bees.

The 45-year-old grew up in the village of Llanbadoc in Monmouthshire, where she still lives and it’s where her skincare brand Honey Bee Beautiful is based. Although she has travelled extensively she is a country girl at heart.

She now lives on a farm with her husband Michael as well as an array of animals which include dogs, cats, chickens and geese.

Beekeeping entered Mrs Clark’s life through her father who she describes as an outdoors person.

“He has wanted to do all sorts of things during his life like keep pigeons, grow vegetables and keep bees,” she said.

“We started keeping bees at the same time, but he has had to give it up recently as he found out he is anaphylactic. We shared a lot of beekeeping experiences together like when we would extract honey together.

“We are quite impatient people, so in the beginning we just got the bees and then we went on a course. We were put in touch with a local beekeeper called Gareth Baker who lives just outside Monmouth and acquired the bees from him.

“We then went and joined our local beekeeping association in Gwent and did their beginners course.”

From there the family became heavily involved in the association, and Mrs Clark soon became the membership secretary. It was from this point that the bees had clearly created a buzz and beekeeping took over her life.

Never did she think that beekeeping would lead to a change in career, but after 20 years in the legal profession, she felt it was time to take a step into the unknown.

“I was working as a lawyer which was completely different to what I do now. There were a lot of changes going on before I left and I started to think that I wanted to do something else with my life. I’ve always been a bit of a free spirit.

“I don’t do any law work now so it’s an absolute change. The only aspect which is similar is helping people.

“As a lawyer I was helping people solve their problems but now I am helping people solve problems to do with their skin. Having the bees means I can work completely in nature, which I love.

“I started gathering products from the hive and making beauty products for myself, friends and family and they loved what I was making, so it grew from there. I soon realised that I could do this as a full-time occupation so I decided to move to what I do now.”

The step into self-employment began at a local level and 2017 looks set to be a year of growth for the business. Having moved into online selling Mrs Clark has already received orders from as far afield as Scotland and Ireland.

“I started selling at local markets, the Usk market was the very first place I sold my products. The Welsh venues have done really well, like the Royal Welsh and the Eisteddfod and the Usk show.

“The flowers have really done well because the people really understand bees and natural products.

“This year I am moving into focusing on online selling. I have been part of Entrepreneurial Spark, a business acceleration scheme, and learned about being more business-like. Because I fell into this as a hobby I want to make it into an efficient business.”

The benefits of honey are widely documented. The company only uses raw honey which is honey from the hive - it is not heated to high temperatures or micro filtered, thereby retaining all of it’s natural vitamins, enzymes and pollens.

They also use beeswax ‘cappings’ which is the wax made and used by the bees to seal the honey comb containing honey stores. It’s the purest form of beeswax with no chemical residue which might be present in other beeswax where the bees have needed treatment for disease.

As people become more educated about their skin the market for natural skincare is growing.

“People are becoming more educated about skincare,” Mrs Clark says. “They are turning over a bar of soap and looking at the ingredients and they know what they should avoid and what is good for them. Research from America shows that over the next decade the use of natural skincare will rise dramatically.

“About 50 per cent of the UK population suffer with skin sensitivity so people need natural alternatives. There are so many benefits to using raw honey. Everyone knows that honey is extremely healing and using the raw honey straight from the hive is the premium because it hasn’t been pasteurised or micro-filtered.

“I have advised people who suffer from acne to use raw honey as a face mask, and put it on for 20 minutes a couple of times a week and it will really help.”

Although the family love animals keeping bees it is very different to having a pet because the bond between human and animal does not exist.

Mrs Clark explains: “The science says that the bees can recognise a single human, but really they are not interested in you. They just want to get on with their job of getting food in and surviving as a colony. In a way you are a distraction to them.

“They are such busy workers and they always have something to do, so you have to be respectful. You have to be quite caring in the way you approach them because you are an intruder. You have to be very slow in your movements and be thoughtful to them.”

While she is an experienced bee keeper she still gets stung from time to time. “I have been stung loads of time. Sometimes you might not zip up your suit properly and then you see one crawling up your veil in front of your eyes. You really don’t want to get stung in the face.

“If you get stung you need to get the sting out as fast as you can because the vat keeps pumping poison into you, so you have to get that out then take antihistamine.”

Mrs Clark’s husband says he’s proud of his wife’s achievements and on occasion he does get involved in the work. “My husband will help with the bees if I need him to, but he’s a petrol head and he has a garage next door. He’s always covered in oil and grease and I am next to him in my cabin smelling all lovely of therapy oils.

“There have been some comical stories. Like when we haven’t been prepared and he has gone up in his jogging pants and the bees have gone all up his leg.He’s been running around the garden stripping off to get them all out.”

Mrs Clark and her company will soon feature on BBC2 series Escape to the Country where she will be demonstrating her beekeeping and making natural products from the hive. More information about Honey Bee Beautiful can be found at