Guerlain’s honeyed history… and the origin of that iconic ‘Bee Bottle’

Honey (and bees) are at the heart of the house of Guerlain, and have been since its founding. With much of their skincare imbued with the healing properties of honey, their iconic ‘Bee Bottle’ inspired by beehives, and now, one of their best-selling fragrances, Tobacco Honey, infused with the scent; Guerlain’s history is abuzz with the scent of honey…

 

Guerlain’s Bee-autiful History:

‘The founder of the House, Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain, dedicated a citrus Eau de Cologne to Empress Eugénie to celebrate her marriage to Napoleon III. Naturally, he named it “Eau de Cologne Impériale”. He then entrusted glassmakers Pochet du Courval to create a bottle adorned with his majesty’s coat of arms, the bees, and a festoon pattern, inspired by the Place Vendôme column. The Bee Bottle was born. It would become an icon.

 

 

The Empress was so impressed with this gift, that she named Pierre-François-Pascal Guerlain “Supplier to the Empress” (“Fournisseur de l’Impératrice”), which helped to rapidly spread Guerlain’s renown throughout Europe’s great royal courts. A legend was born. Today, the emblematic Bee Bottle is still made in the Pochet du Courval ateliers and now lends itself to colour and personalisation. The perfume bottles can be refilled time and time again in a celebration of how luxury can meet sustainable development as guided by Bees. The “Dames de table” continue to seal and hand decorate this historic bottle, creating some exceptional versions that perpetuate tra-ditional craftsmanship, art and artisanship.’

 

 

 

With bees so central to their heritage, it was only natural for Guerlain to create a buzz for the conservation of bees, because… ‘If bees were no longer to exist,’ Guerlain explain, ‘most fruits, flowers and seeds would disappear forever, taking with them an infinite number of irreplaceable colours, flavours and smells. Across the world, intensive farming, vanishing habitats, climate change and so forth are drastically impacting the health of bees, both wild and domestic.’ Hence why they set up the Guerlain For Bees Conservation Programme.

In order to preserve a future for bees – and for fragrance – Guerlain remind us that ‘It is crucial for us to protect them, but this alone is not enough. We must also raise awareness around the importance of bee conservation for the world of today and tomorrow. This is why Guerlain is committed to teaching children about the cause of bees, thanks to its Bee School. Its programme Women for Bees, in partnership with UNESCO, also aims to train new women beekeepers at UNESCO’s biosphere reserves.’

‘Since 2021, Guerlain has made a symbol of this day initiated by the UN. Each year, the House raises no less than one million euros to donate and accelerate the actions of its “Guerlain for Bees Conservation Programme”. A very special day in which one of the House’s friends, Angelina Jolie, has participated since the beginning.’

 

 

Needing more of Guerlain’s honey-infused heritage? You can read all about the gloriously honey-rich Guerlain Honey Tobacco in our previous exploration of honey fragrances, and the differing ways honey is used to coax particular characters from other perfumery notes. There’s a whole hive of Guerlain’s history to explore in our page dedicated to the founding and development of the house, and did you know there’s even a comic book dedicated to Guerlain’s heritage?

 

 

 

Choose your own Guerlain Bee Bottle, which you my have personalised for a special occasion, or for a gift, in-store or online. You can select any fragrance, then decide on the size and style of bottle, and even choose the cord and seal for the scent – what a way to memorialise a wedding or anniversary – or simply savour your all-time favourite fragrance. And given the current buzz around that Honey Tobacco, we reckon many a bee bottle will be housing that scent for years to come…

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale