Burt's Bees co-founder Burt Shavitz dies aged 80

The reclusive beekeeper-turned-businessman died from respiratory complicatons surrounded by family

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Burt Shavitz, the beekeeper who went on to co-found Burt’s Bees, has died age 80.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the company said Shavitz died of respiratory complications in Bangor, Maine, surrounded by family and friends.

Shavitz started Burt’s Bees when he, a beekeeper making his own honey, encountered a hitchhiker called Roxanne Quimby, who started making products using his beeswax. The two became business partners in the 1980s.

In 1994, Shavitz moved back to Maine after Quimby moved the company to North Carolina and the partnership ended. Later, in 2007, Clorox purchased Burt’s Bees for $925 million.

In an email to the AP, Quimby said “Burt was an enigma; my mentor and my muse. I am deeply saddened.”

“Burt was a complex man who sought a simple life in pace with the seasons of nature on his land,” the company said in a statement. “If there is one thing we will remember from Burt’s life, in our fast-paced, high-tech culture, it’s to never lose sight of our relationship with nature.”