ALTERNATIVE medicine business Nature’s Laboratory, which uses a natural product made by bees, has entered The Press Business Awards for recognition of its true use of family in the business and its links with higher education.

James Fearnley started in business in the 1980s, when he and his wife ran a wholefood shop and vegetarian restaurant alongside an ethical marketing company.

In the early 1990s he started a renaissance of interest in propolis, a natural antibiotic produced by bees, and the business in its current form produces natural medicines from plant and bee products from its base in Whitby.

Son Hugo Fearnley was recruited to handle the marketing of the company in 2005 after completing a degree in Mandarin Chinese and Asian culture. He became more involved in 2006, when Nature’s Laboratory acquired The Herbal Apothecary.

Hugo is now business development director, developing the company’s existing markets in South Korea, China, Singapore and Indonesia.

James’s daughter, Cecily, also joined the business and has become managing director as well as launching her own range of natural skincare products for the company.

James published his first book about the healing powers of propolis in 2001.

With the family taking care of the business, he has been able to turn his attention back to his passion of researching and developing propolis as a credible modern-day medicine.

This has included linking up with the Institute of Pharmaceutical Innovation at Bradford University.