Sometimes, all it takes to start a fire, is the simplest act of kindness, a gesture—just a tiny bit of love. My name is Charles and I am a Master Candle Maker. Let me tell you my story.
The truth is, kids rarely grow up dreaming of becoming an artisan cirier, or “beeswax chandler.” Neither did I, although arts and crafts have always fascinated me. But one must reconcile with the realities of existence, and for over a decade, working behind a desk as a web designer had become my share in life, my daily routine. But fate had it otherwise.
A few years ago, I purchased a bundle of natural beeswax candles from a local beekeeper as a gift for some friends. Although the wrapping left much to be desired, the wax sticks were quaint and graceful. So much that I decided—unbeknownst to my friends—to keep one for myself.
I had delicately placed the precious candle in a pencil box on my desk, where it sat for months. And then one day, it hit me: “With a little practice, I bet I could make something like that.” My creative spark had been ignited.
From that day on, my ambition has never wavered:
Restore candles to their former glory.
A Flickering Flame
Even when the journey is grand, beginnings are often humble. But passion and patience go a long way. With 300 euros in my pocket, I bought a slab of beeswax, a few wicks, some packing paper, and a nice, tailor-made box—the journey had begun.
Working with nature’s gold was challenging but extremely fulfilling, and the result, equally rewarding. I had found my calling. In due time, I traded my mouse and my keyboard for a few tools, some molds and a workshop in beautiful Southern France. Apis Cera was born.
“Apis Cera”? People often ask me about the origins and meaning of our name. The answer is embarrassingly simple: being the computer nerd that I had become, I typed “bee wax” and found the Latin translation “Apis Cera.” I bought the domain name right away!
Over the past few years, Apis Cera has developed an exciting variety of exclusive hand-made creations, each with their distinct personality. Signature honeycomb candles, embossed pillars handcrafted à l’ancienne, and traditional tapers are all made from natural beeswax—a scarce hence costly material. No chemicals, no additives nor coloring are used in the process. And our non-smoking candles’ wicks are made from 100% pure cotton.
Apis Cera also offers skin care products, such as soaps and lip balms made from organic ingredients, primarily found in the region of Provence (lavender, extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, essential oils of lavandin), around the Mediterranean, and further out (argan oil, shea butter, ylang-ylang, etc.).
From design and fabrication to wrapping and packaging, we strive to fashion exceptional yet affordable candles and soaps, while being environmentally responsible each step of the way. Unlike commonly used ingredients in synthetic candles, such as paraffin (soft solid derivatives from coal, petroleum or oil shale) or stearin (extracted from animal and vegetable fat), beeswax is a harmless and sustainable gift to humanity. It carries no pollutants and gives off a soothing and delicious perfume…
Today, I am proud to say that Apis Cera is a thriving workshop, delivering high-quality natural products to ecologically-conscious customers in Europe and all over the world. Its business helps protect local communities, hard-working honey bees and our global environment, while promoting an ancestral savoir-faire.
In short, as long as bees won’t know how to make candles, we will be the middlemen between them, their hives and the people.
There aren’t many artisan candle makers left in France. But it doesn’t take very much for a tiny spark to turn into a flickering flame, and a feeble fire into a burning blaze of joy, warmth… and hope. Let’s keep it alive. Together.
Charles van Valkenburg, Founder of Apis Cera