SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - South Mountain Bees, owned by South Orange resident and beekeeper Adriana Compagnoni, recently won three awards at the 2016 New Jersey Beekeepers Association (NJBA) Honey Show. 

South Mountain Bees' beeswax lip balm came in first place in the Lip Balm Category and was also awarded Best in the Cosmetics Division, which also included creams, lotions and soaps. South Mountain Bees' soap entry finished in second place for the second year in a row.

According to the South Mountain Bees website, their lip balm is a chemical-free product that is made from their own beeswax, which is "a fantastic ingredient in lip balm, because it moisturizes the skin, it protects from ultraviolet sun rays, and it has natural antibacterial properties."

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Other ingredients in the lip balm include sweet almond oil, Vitamin E oil, and a blend of peppermint and lavender essential oils. The lip balm comes in a decorative metal tin in a choice of 16 designs.

According to Compagnoni, "The NJBA entries go through pretty thorough scrutiny, some categories are even left vacant, if there are no entries meeting their standards." 

In the lip balm category, entries are evaluated on five aspects says Compagnoni, which are scent or flavor, cleanliness, packaging appearance, and texture. As for why her lip balm won, Compagnoni explained, "I managed to find a balanced formula that is not waxy or greasy and has a pleasant scent. It is tricky because the texture is affected by outside temperature, and because I only use essential oils. The scent can evaporate easily at relatively low temperatures during mixing."

Since entries are also judged on presentation, Compagnoni had to get that aspect of her lip balm exactly right, too. "I must have filled 20 containers until I got three I was happy with, which had even surfaces, no visible imperfections, exact same weight, and the label perfectly centered," said Compagnoni. "Getting clean beeswax can be challenging; you have to filter it carefully, and sometimes small spurious particles sneak through the mesh and paper. Beeswax melts at a low temperature, and it solidifies quickly, so you don't want to overheat it because it burns easily, but then you end with a coat of wax clogging the filter."

As for Compagnoni, she's already thinking about her entries for next year's NJBA competition. In the soap category, Compagnoni was only one or two points behind the winning entry, with her entry receiving a perfect score in four of the six categories. Says Compagnoni, "Now I just need to figure out how to improve it for next year."

South Mountain Bees products are available for purchase online at their website here.