South Orange resident Adriana Compagnoni began keeping bees in her backyard in 2012 as a way to involve her family in a fun activity while helping mitigate the decline in honeybees.
“We started with two hives and a lot of enthusiasm,” said Compagnoni, a college professor and self-described computer geek. “Over time, we discovered that beekeeping makes for the best show-and-tell providing material for many of our kids’ school projects, and we get to eat delicious honey.”
In the midst of a second battle with cancer, Compagnoni decided she needed a hobby that would “help me keep my sanity,” so she started making soaps with the beeswax that was accumulating after each honey harvest. “Having so little under my control, I wanted to significantly reduce the harmful chemicals that I and my family were exposed to, and decided to start making my own cosmetics beyond soap,” she said.
Fast forward to 2016, and Compagnoni just won two prizes at the New Jersey Beekeepers Association (NJBA) Annual Honey Show 2016 for her products. She won for Beeswax Lip Balm ranked not only first in the Lip Balm Category, but best in the Cosmetics Division, which included creams, lotions, soaps and lip balm. Furthermore, her soaps won the Red Ribbon two years in a row: 2015 and 2016.
The (NJBA) is a not-for-profit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the promotion and support of beekeeping in New Jersey.
A Maplewood and South Orange resident for over fifteen years, Compagnoni has two children in the South Orange public schools, and her husband is a software engineer.
“Winning best in division was an incredible feeling,” said Compagnoni. “I know I do my best to handcraft a good product, but being recognized by [the judges] validated my efforts.”
Compagnoni has already set her sites on next year’s show and is currently figuring out what products she will enter. “Now I’m on a mission.”