Burt Shavitz: Beekeeper for whom a chance meeting led to the creation of a multi-million dollar cosmetics company

Shavitz grew up in New York, served in the army in Germany and took photos for Time-Life before leaving the city

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The Independent Online

Burt Shavitz was the reclusive beekeeper who co-founded Burt's Bees and whose face and wild beard appeared on labels for the natural-cosmetics company. The life of the former hippy making a living selling honey was altered by a chance encounter with a hitch-hiking Roxanne Quimby. "Burt was an enigma; my mentor and my muse. I am deeply saddened," she said.

The single mother and back-to-the-lander impressed Shavitz with her ingenuity and self-sufficiency, and in the 1980s, when she began making products from his beeswax, they became partners. The business partnership ended after she moved the company to North Carolina in 1994. The company continued to expand, but Shavitz moved back to Maine, claiming that he was forced out after having an affair with an employee. In 2007, Clorox purchased Burt's Bees for $925m (£597m).

Shavitz received an undisclosed settlement and 37 acres in a remote corner of Maine and continued to make appearances on behalf of the company. "What I have is no regret," he said last year. "The bottom line is she's got her world and I've got mine, and we let it go at that."

Shavitz grew up in New York, served in the army in Germany and took photos for Time-Life before leaving the city. He had tried leaving Maine once before, spending a winter on a warm island, but was drawn back. "Burt was a complex man who sought a simple life in pace with the seasons of nature on his land," Burt's Bees said in a statement. "If there is one thing we will remember from Burt's life, in our fast-paced, hi-tech culture, it's to never lose sight of our relationship with nature."

Ingram Berg (Burt) Shavitz, beekeeper and businessman: born New York 15 May 1935; died Bangor, Maine 5 July 2015.

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