I first met Dr. Asli Samanci, Founder and General Manager of Bee & You, on a press trip to Istanbul, Turkey, where we learned firsthand about the company and visited one of Bee & You’s contracted beekeeper farms. Dr. Samanci struck me as a woman who was passionate about her company, bees, their production of Propolis, and other healthy substances. As I got to know her better, there was so much more to her that impressed me. Beyond her stellar scientific mind and entrepreneurial skill is a woman with strong family values and a will to do good in the world. The woman behind Bee & You is a force to be reckoned with, and understanding where she came from is the key to appreciating the goals and values of her company.
The story of Dr. Samanci does not begin with bees. It starts with a young girl who was raised with strong family values and work ethic, by parents who were both doctors. Her father was a surgeon, and her mother was a pediatrician. “All my life when I was growing up, they were always working, even at night. If there was a call, they had to go. I remember my father going to surgery for two days. He was a doctor for the heart and blood. Same with my mother, I remember babies coming into our house late at night. I was in the middle of doctors and patients,” Samanci said. Her parents were not just any doctors, they were extremely caring to their patients, and went above and beyond to provide services to those who could not afford to pay. Samanci often spent time with her parents at their work after school and watched them intently.
“What they were doing, I was admiring as well. I was planning to be a doctor, but they didn’t let me. They said: this is so hard, Asli, choose something else. It is really extremely hard work. Can you fix a car when it’s going? It’s like fixing a car when it’s going.” She wanted to be a brain surgeon. “I don’t choose anything easy. When I was a small child, 2, 3 years old and they asked what will you be in the future, I said a scientist.”
Samanci was always curious and had many interests as a child, including reading, writing, poetry, and gymnastics, so being a doctor and scientist were just some of her passions. Undaunted by her parents’ advice, Samanci set her sights on other ways that she could help people to be well.
Determined to become a doctor despite her parents’ advice, Samanci embarked on a journey to become a food scientist. “Food engineering was newly opened at Istanbul Technical University. I thought I could still help people with providing good quality food,” Samanci explained. She decided that learning about food and its ingredients would be a way that she could help people to be healthier and prevent disease. Little did she know that the seeds to her future were sown by a detour that was destined to be.
Samanci obtained her degree and then pursued a doctorate while working. She went to work ay several companies. “My first job was a catering company, a very small company, that was far from my house. We became like a family. We were producing meals for other companies. This was a hard job.” Samanci was responsible for making sure the food was prepared properly, and maintained at the right temperatures. The company grew from 500 to 3,000 customers by the time Samanci left.
Another job was with a honey packaging company that had 35 employees. “I was supposed to set up a lab to decide if the honey was authentic,” Samanci said. This was the first honey lab in Turkey. She found that honey was not easy to understand. She had to analyze the chemistry of honey to determine whether it was pure or not.
“I noticed there are funds for attending scientific conferences, so I got funds,” Samanci said. She went to these conferences and networked with other food scientists. She said there were no standards for the beekeepers and wanted to develop methods for them. She came back to the lab to develop methods for differentiating good quality honey from bad quality honey.
“My first project was to analyze residues and authenticity in honey. I started setting up the methods,” said Samanci. She set up a huge lab and trained people how to analyze honey. But there was one thing that Samanci could not do at this job, and that was to produce Propolis.
Samanci hired Taylan Samanci, whom she eventually married, to help as a beekeeping specialist and agricultural engineer. He trained the beekeepers for three years to make the product without pesticides, and also wrote a book. “He was a hard worker, just like me,” she said. “We were enjoying what we were doing. It’s like a passion.” It was a match made in heaven, and they married and started a family.
The ultimate turning point for Samanci happened when her five year-old son suffered from a myriad of illnesses, and she was finally advised to try treating him with Propolis and Royal Jelly. “I had to produce my own Propolis, because when I tested the products out there on the market, because I was running a lab, and I was an expert in determining the authenticity of bee products – I saw they do not have the active compounds of Propolis and Royal Jelly,” Samanci explained. “I asked Taylan where to find real Propolis and Royal Jelly.” She added that most beekeepers either did not produce these products or threw them away. Finally, a beekeeper agreed to produce it.
After treating her son with Propolis that Samanci extracted in her lab, his symptoms began disappearing. In 6 months, her son was totally healed of disease. Before that, no medicine or other remedies helped. Samanci was sold and embarked on a mission to spread the healing powers of Propolis to the world. She quit her job, and decided to become an entrepreneur, along with her husband, by founding Bee & You to produce Propolis.
Bee & You was born as a labor of love to heal a variety of health issues and support immunity in the broad sense. Samanci calls Propolis, a “Stop aging” product. Bee & You is based on Samanci’s philosophy of healing the body first from natural methods. This philosophy is one that Samanci’s parents instilled in her, and that was integral to her upbringing. With this foundation, it is no wonder that Bee & You makes quality products, with healing in mind. There is no question that Bee & You is the hive and Samanci is Queen Bee.