Burt Shavitz, iconic co-founder of Burt’s Bees, dies at 80

In May 23, 2014, file photo, Burt Shavitz poses for a photo on his property in Parkman, Maine. Shavitz, a former beekeeper, is the Burt behind Burt's Bees. A spokeswoman for Burt’s Bees said Shavtiz died Sunday, July 5, 2015, at his home in rural Maine. He was 80. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

DURHAM, N.C. (NBC News) – Burt Shavitz, the bearded beekeeper who was the iconic face of the body products company he co-founded in 1984, Burt’s Bees, has died. He was 80 years old.

“We remember him as a bearded, free-spirited Maine man, a beekeeper, a wisecracker, a lover of golden retrievers and his land,” the company wrote in a post on its website.

It was unclear how Shavitz died.

Shavitz co-founded the company with Roxanne Quimby, an art school graduate from Massachusetts who moved to Maine in 1975. In 1984, after meeting Shavitz while hitchhiking, she used his beeswax to produce candles that she sold at craft fairs. In its first year, Burt’s Bees earned $20,000. Seven years later, the company introduced its best-known product — lip balm — and quickly expanded.

Three years later, Quimby moved Burt’s Bees from Maine to North Carolina, and in 2003, she sold 80 percent of it to an investor group for $170 million.

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