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The Founders Of BEE ULMO, Romina Raffo & Ruben Lhasa, Discuss Their Ulmo Honey Brand

Courtesy of BEE ULMO

Ulmo honey is made from the Ulmo tree flower based in Chilean Patagonia. This particular honey in the past has shown to have antimicrobial properties, but this depends on the type of honey, geographical location, and flower from which the final product is derived, according to BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.

“We tested the antimicrobial activity of a Chilean honey manufactured by Apis mellifera (honeybee) from the Ulmo tree (Eucryphia cordifolia) against certain strains of bacteria.”

Romina and her husband Ruben Raffo discovered this batch of honey during a trip to Chilean Patagonia. The locals shared with them about this “miracle” honey, and like many, they were under the impression that they were just overselling their natural resource. However, after trying it, the Rafflos began conducting some research with the support of Dr. Gloria Montenegro Rizzardini of the Pontifical University of Chile.

They then proceed to conduct over 300 scientific studies on the properties of Ulmo honey, which is featured in this region of the world. That is when they realized the capabilities of this honey.

Dr. Montenegro’s research involved the analysis of the antibacterial properties of Ulmo honey and comparison with other types of honey to determine which has the most antibacterial power. The high activity observed is determined by the high presence of active phenolics and hydrogen peroxide naturally present in Ulmo honey.

The research also included thousands of tests with bacteria and comparisons with traditional antibiotics, such as penicillin and streptomycin, to ensure the real effectiveness of Ulmo honey. This resulted in the development of three different APF (Active Patagonia Factor) 100+, 150+ and 200+, depending on the level of activity and antibacterial properties. Boosting your immune system or increasing your energy level to treat skin infections such as acne, and cure ulcers or gastritis.

They then realized this was something that they should bring the United States especially with the current pandemic that we are in.

They also conducted a study and compared the antimicrobial activity of Ulmo honey from Chilean Patagonia and Manuka honey with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

“Initial screening with the agar diffusion assay demonstrated that Ulmo Honey has greater antibacterial activity against all MRSA isolates tested than Manuka Honey, and similar activity against E. coli and P. aeruginosa,” according to Pubmed.

The couple recently launched their company BEE ULMO in the US and will be launching in China in the next couple of weeks. However, customers in the Chinese market are already pre-order units.

I recently sat down with both Romina Raffo & Ruben Lhasa to discuss Ulmo Honey and BEE ULMO. They also sent me a sample for me to try their product as well. It is very delicious.

What year did you officially launch Bee Ulmo?

We officially launched BEE ULMO last March 2021, although we have been working on it for the past two years. It just took us some time to get all the permits and get the FDA approval. In addition, we partnered with Universidad Católica de Chile and conducted more than 300 studies to prove the scientific benefits of Ulmo honey from this particular region of the Chilean Patagonia. 

How did the idea of BEE ULMO come about?

It was during our first trip to Chilean Patagonia, when the locals told us about this “miracle” honey that the bees made from the Ulmo tree flower. We heard stories about people never getting sick, others using Ulmo honey as energy booster, others curing acne and other skin problems with the honey,… In the beginning, we thought it was just them being proud of their local honey; however, after conducting our research with the help of Dr. Gloria Montenegro, from the Pontificia Universidad de Chile, we realized that the antibacterial properties of Ulmo honey were higher compared to the rest of honeys in the market, including Manuka Honey. Along with our own research, there are other scientific studies conducted by third-party companies that confirm this as well. They are available on our website www.beeulmo.com

What inspired you to pursue this business venture?

After we conducted the scientific research, and confirmed the benefits of Ulmo honey, my husband and I were like: “We need to bring Ulmo to the rest of the world, so others can enjoy the benefits of this truly extraordinary honey!” And in addition to the health benefits, it tastes delicious!! And of course, we looked at the numbers, and studied what Manuka did with their honey, which is a great honey as well. But after all the scientific studies we did, on each one of said studies, Ulmo had more antibacterial properties than Manuka. So we were like: “Let’s do this!”

How has your business been affected or thrived during the pandemic?

This pandemic has actually helped the launch of our honey because people are more aware of the importance of building a strong immune system. Before officially launching our product, we wanted to test the market, so we sent 500 units to Amazon and put a small ad on Facebook. 48 hours later, we had run out of stock! Now, BEE ULMO honey is in the USA and Europe, and is launching in China next month.

What were some of the challenges that you faced during the early stages of starting your company?

We are entrepreneurs, and own other companies. So we know that facing challenges is just the name of the game! In the early stages, I guess that getting the paperwork ready, the permits to bring the honey to other countries, the branding, labeling, finding the right team, dealing with rejection,… But we welcome those challenges, as they represent opportunities to grow both professionally and personally.

You stated that you own other companies. How did those make it earlier to come up with the financial capital to pay for the FDA paperwork, research studies, product creation, and shipments?

It definitely helps to have other sources of income. When you launch a new business and don’t have another income source, it can be very risky. We know from experience. We struggled in the past. But some time ago, my husband and I decided not to depend on only one source of income to diversify. And it has paid off. So now, we are in a position to self-finance the launch of BEE ULMO. But for those who do not have the same position and want to launch their own company, I would say: “If you are single, take as much risk as you want. But if you already have a family, and have a job, don’t quit your job just yet. Start your business on the side. Use your early hours of the day and late hours of the night to start building your company. If you keep working hard, there will be a time when you’ll be able to say to your current boss, “Thanks for the opportunity, but I’m now a full-time entrepreneur.” We are still a work in progress, but the more successful you become, the higher the risk you can take, that’s for sure. 

Do you plan on partnering with retail stores such as Walmart, Kroger, Costco, and Safeway to reach more customers in the US?

We are in touch with several retail stores here in the US. We have already sent them some samples, and they liked our honey very much! So we will be in some US grocery stores very soon! Our company is US based, so, whether through Amazon.com or retail, we want to serve US customers. 

Have you thought about possibly featuring Bee Ulmo in Compound Pharmacies and other places that specialize in supplements?

It is not a market that we are familiar with, but we are always open to look into new things and see if it’s a good opportunity for everyone involved. So, thank you for the tip!

How much money do you feel Bee Ulmo can save customer’s skincare products and allergy medication?

Quite a bit! Because those products out there are expensive! And oftentimes, they are not good for you either! Ulmo honey can help reduce acne breakouts by reducing bacteria on the skin. You can put a small amount of Ulmo honey directly on your clean face, leave it to act for 20 minutes, and then, washed with lukewarm water. This is also a great remedy for unclogging pores, reducing blackheads, and making the skin soft and radiant.

We need to understand that Nature made will always be better than something artificial, at least in the long term. The way we look at it is: we would much rather invest in natural remedies now to prevent than pay for medical bills later to cure. So yes, by taking Ulmo honey daily, the consumers can save a lot of money on medical bills and cosmetics!

What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?

Of course, there are many pieces to the puzzle, but if I had to say one thing, it would be: Have a strong vision! What does your “puzzle” look like? Because when you have a strong vision, even if at the moment, you don’t have all the pieces, even if you go through bad moments, your vision will carry you through those bad moments and will make you look for those missing pieces. 

What are some of the other things that you are currently, focusing on?

We are always looking for ways to improve and learn; for example, my husband just published his first book. It’s called “A Titan Life.” Highly recommend it! So we are now also learning about the literary world. Before he published his first book, he already knew what his second would be about and is now writing it. We love having something to look forward to. It makes life interesting and exciting. And it’s a great example for your kids if you are a parent. In life, you are either growing or dying. Just look at any plant. If they are not growing, they are dying. Same with people. And the more you learn, the more humble you become as you realize how little you know.

Have you done any research on companies such as Eat Beyond, which is a company out of Canada that focused on healthy and sustainable food? 

We’ve heard of them, but we are not familiar as to have an opinion. But we truly believe we need to be more responsible towards the Earth. As the saying goes: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we simply borrow it from our children.”

They have recently partnered with Mike Mancias, an ambassador for Eat Beyond, and have ties within the professional athletic community. Have you thought about alternative food sources within the minority communities? 

​We are familiar with Mike Mancias, and it is incredible what he’s done with LeBron James! I think it’s a two-part question. On the one hand, Ulmo honey is a wonderful, natural energy booster. So it works phenomenally well in the professional athletic community. In fact, we are currently developing a partnership with, I can’t say the name yet, but it’s one the world’s best tennis academies in the world. Regarding the second part of the question”, I think it’s about time we stop making people feel like “minorities,” and we work together in building a healthier “human” community.

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Written by Landon Buford

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