Names: Suzie Millar and Iain Millar.

Ages: 37 and 40.

What is your business called?

The Scottish Bee Company.

Where is it based?

Our main bases are in Edinburgh and Livingston, but our honey is produced on bee farms throughout the Lothians, Dumfriesshire, Stirlingshire, Fife and Aberdeenshire.

What does it sell?

Premium bee-related products including beeswax candles as well as honey.

The company prides itself on having no pesticides or genetically modified organisms in its honey.

Our Heather Honey has won a Great Taste award. In a study by Fera Science it was found to contain up to 10 times more of the essential micronutrient, manganese, compared to 200 of our global rivals.

Manganese is an essential mineral. As well as its high antioxidant qualities, it plays a role in helping to make and activate enzymes in the body involved in protecting tissues from damage and in the metabolism of nutrients. It also helps maintain healthy bones.

The company is also known for promoting locally grown produce and for our environmentally friendly and socially responsible products. In just two years we’ve increased bee numbers in Scotland by around 23 million.

We’ve also launched our sister charity, which aims to further increase pollination through education programmes and wildflower spaces, committed to donating 10p from every unit sold to Re-Pollinate.

To whom does it sell?

We sell to a wide and varied market across the UK, northern Europe and the USA, but our reach is predominantly within the 25 to 65 age group who have an interest in health and premium food products.

So far during the coronavirus pandemic, new online markets have actually opened up to us, but unfortunately, we have seen a negative impact on our high street retailers.

Recent sales opportunities have also appeared from unexpected places. Keep Edinburgh Thriving being an example. They set up an online business within a week of the lockdown and started to distribute boxes of goods to people to support small businesses and in turn became a great new customer.

We’ve had less time to work, which has made us more focussed when we do.

What is its turnover?

Our turnover is currently into six figures. We’ve tripled our sales year on year since setting up in 2017 and are projected to do the same in 2020.

How many employees?

We employ a team of five people across our various Scotland-wide sites, including starting Scotland’s first bee farming apprenticeship.

We’re responding and adapting to the current coronavirus pandemic in with care. Care for ourselves and our staff. It's a difficult time so we are just trying to work our way through each day and encourage our staff to do the same. I'm in awe of what they have achieved during this period of time.

We’ve also started having remote weekly team meetings online, which has actually been really nice for us all to keep in contact and keep the business moving.

When was it formed?

We established the company in 2017 from our home in the Lothians.

Why did you take the plunge?

We wanted to make a difference to the dwindling bee-population and wider pollinator population. We also wanted to be an example of a ‘profits with purpose’ business.

We were also astonished to find how much honey consumed in the UK is imported from around the world, so feel strongly that we need more, home grown, bee-friendly honey from right here in Scotland.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

Before setting up the Scottish Bee Company, I was a chiropractor and my husband Iain had just finished the Entrepreneurial Scotland Saltire fellowship programme in Boston, USA.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

We were lucky to have the financial support of our friends and family to help get the company off the ground and are really grateful for all their valuable help and advice.

What was your biggest break?

Being accepted into the renowned House of Bruar Food Hall near Pitclochry really helped kick-start our brand.

More recently the investment we’ve had from Edinburgh’s Green Angel Syndicate was a turning point for our business. Green Angel Syndicate is the only angel syndicate in the UK which specialises in making investments that are of benefit to the green economy.

What was your worst moment?

Dealing with a family tragedy in the middle of caring for our new baby who wasn’t sleeping, whilst trying to run the business from our sofa.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

The freedom it gives, the creativity it allows for and the variety to each working day.

What do you least enjoy?

We work from home, so relying on our sofa as our office is the least enjoyable thing about what we do.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

Our plan is to increase bee numbers across Scotland and the wider world.

We’re now beginning to export our honey.

What are your five top priorities for the business?

1. Increase bee numbers.

2. Increase pollination.

3. Ensure our honey has a strong provenance message.

4. Increase employment for bee farmers.

5. Have fun while doing so.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

We would like to see the government supporting increased funding for bee farmers and increased opportunities for bee farming apprentices.

In terms of the coronavirus, we think they have done everything they can to try to make sure businesses are looked after. There are still gaps but the news changes every day so they may be filled.

Sometimes decisions have to be made with incomplete information and this is one of those times. There will inevitably be things that could be done differently but it's an unprecedented time.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to stop being a perfectionist and start being a ‘good enough-ist’.

How do you relax?

To relax we like to walk, ski, as well as listen to music and podcasts while cooking with a glass of good wine.