MS: What was your pivotal moment in life that made you take this direction?
DB: Well, the final impetus was a push. I was teaching at a struggling school and my failures and the failures of the institution I represented weighed on me.
MS: What made you want to be what you are now?
DB: I have always loved insects. As I grew, I internalized that bugs, and the study of bugs, was not a worthy adult pursuit. In college I studied political science and economics. As I struggled in an ill-fitting career, I yearningly recalled my abiding passion for bugs. I thought I'd get some honeybees. I was an inept beekeeper at first, but I was enamored with the purpose, organization, and willing sacrifice of a honeybee hive.
MS: How did you get started/where did you begin?
DB: I addressed the boyhood longing in question two. Selling local honey is easy, though getting the customer to understand the properties of genuine honey involves customer education. Selling beeswax is more difficult. Without a buyer I began experimenting creating balms with plant butters, oils and extracts. I was always tethered to sustainable, empowering agriculture but my early products were super rudimentary. My sister asked me to make her wedding favors, a bridesmaid asked me to make favors for her wedding and so on until the owner of a boutique asked if she could carry my products in her store. At that time all our products were handmade.
MS: What are your favorite parts about what you do?
DB: Oh, boy, this is super aggrandizing but the possibility of better human outcomes. The extent to which plastic harms human health is coming into sharper focus by the month. Exploitation in agriculture has always been a problem for anyone with the courage to look and not flinch from what they find. We can lessen developmental harm, empower strivers, their families and communities and challenge unquestioned, harmful precepts. Moreover, most customers value efforts to align capitalism with an ethic of better human outcomes. Therein is our lane.
MS: What are your short-term and/or long-term goals at the moment?
DB: We have 15-16 products in the pipeline of creation. However, they will not be sufficient without the stories of human empowerment, lessened human harm, the evidence underpinning all we do, blithe disregard for safety by some companies and statutory impotence of US regulators. We also need to relay the stories of our partner farmers- the good at the root.
MS: Do you have advice for people interested in the same field?
DB: Oh boy, yes, spend your time on your most elemental proposition. Make your good, your solution, your benefit as clear as possible, preferably self-evident. Worry about email marketing and all secondary actions later. Tussle with your creation, your foundation. Also, Mike Tyson once mused, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth…" What's your plan? The blows will assuredly come.
MS: What is something(s) you wish you knew in the beginning?
DB: Wow, I wish I knew how much I'd falter, cry, endure, and strive. And I'd tell myself to cherish and forgive all of it.
MS: Who/what are your biggest inspirations and why?
DB: Hmmm, I find inspiration all over. I love the stories of Abraham Lincoln. He struggled, and it only broadened him. He knew the trial of working the land when that meant going after stumps with an ax. It honed his body and prepared his mind. William Herndon, Lincoln's law partner wrote, "For fifty years, God rolled Abraham Lincoln through his fiery furnace. He did it to try Abraham and to purify him for his purposes. This made Mr. Lincoln humble, tender, forbearing, sympathetic to suffering, kind, sensitive, tolerant; broadening, deepening and widening his whole nature; making him the noblest and loveliest character since Jesus Christ. I believe that Lincoln was God’s chosen one." I love how Lincoln lived looking at the ages and his fellow men.
MS: What is your favorite food/drink-related memory?
DB: Definitely an experience where I was involved in the growing, capture, or cultivation of a meal. I love shellfishing (love me some bivalves!) I also love going crabbing at night in a flat bottom boat with a spotlight and net. I also love my bees but, perhaps oddly, don't have a sweet tooth. Eating the fruits of your labor is grand.
MS: What is your favorite quote(s) and why?
DB: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning. It's the elemental truth as articulated by the stoics and recognized by Frankl in in Nazi death camps. When we cannot change our surroundings, illness, shackles, we look to ourselves.
MS: What is your favorite meal and/or drink to share?
DB: Probably spicy blue crabs caught by my hand.
MS: What is your ideal day in the work life?
DB: A day where I mix up my actions–part creative, part labor, part administrative. I also find that the law of diminishing returns hits me early, so I benefit from varying what I do. I also love the flexibility of going for a run if I choose. I am more effective that day. I return invigorated, cognitively refreshed, and in a better emotional state and I get more done that day, even having invested an hour or 90 minutes running. And the benefits surely accrue over more than a day.
MS: What is your ideal non-work day?
DB: Boy, I haven't had many in years. This will be determinative of so much I hope for. Given that, I work. But that is not a lament. My work is very meaningful. My heart is hot and I awake each day eager to make what I see apparent to others.
MS: What are some things that keep you going?
DB: My belief that “what is, mustn't always be.” Change is possible, In fact, it's likely. Our direful present is only our present.
MS: How do you approach a work life balance?
DB: Well, conventionally understood, I don't do well here. My work consumes my time, thought, and constrains relationships. But this is the path to what I seek. My whole soul is in this.
MS: What is something you wish people learned or knew more about in your industry?
DB: That there is no effective, scientifically-informed regulatory agency looking out for you, your loved ones and your community. And people will tell you that which ain't so to pad their pocket. Imagine that.
MS: What does supporting local mean to you?
DB: Hmmm, well, our commerce is worldwide due the realities of botanical distribution. However, I value community and at its most conventional, that is my community–Norwich. Norwich is formerly wealthy, now a struggling old mill town. I hope to underwrite programs close to my heart, provide a helping hand, advocate for people from a position where my advocacy is meaningful.
MS: Do you have advice or encouragement for ways to support local?
DB: I recommend supporting your local beekeeper and farmer. In the case of the beekeeper, most of the benefit is in exposure to local pollens. Imported honey–all too often corn syrup–has none of that benefit. We are part of Healthy PlanEat, a platform that connects customers to their local farmers. Knowing your farmer is a good start.
MS: What is your favorite book and why?
DB: Oh boy, for me it's not close–Moby Dick. It takes much persistence to uncover, but it's the most unaccountably grand meditation on human nature, the watery bits of this globe, madness, and so much more.
MS: What is your favorite song and why?
DB: I'm gonna say Johnny 99 by Bruce Springsteen. It's a story about outcomes, and how a helping hand, a bit of kindness can alter outcomes–"it was more 'en all this that put that gun in my hand."
MS: What is your favorite location and why?
DB: In the British Virgin Islands there is an island called Norman Island. Towards the northeast shore are cliffs that continue into the water below. In the cliffs are caves. You can snorkel the caves at night guided by all the bioluminescent creatures. It is the most remarkable aquatic ecosystem I have ever experienced. That ecosystem is dead now. The reef is dead, the schools no longer congregate, the predators don't follow, and the bioluminescent creatures no longer light the way. I don't know if warming waters, ocean acidification, or something else killed the reef. I just know young and future generations should not absolve us.
I wish I knew how much I'd falter, cry, endure, and strive. And I'd tell myself to cherish and forgive all of it.
spend your time on your most elemental proposition. Make your good, your solution, your benefit as clear as possible, preferably self-evident. Worry about email marketing and all secondary actions later. Tussle with your creation, your foundation. Also, Mike Tyson once mused, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth…" What's your plan? The blows will assuredly come.
to know what's the buzz and support drew and his honeybees, visit his website or follow along on instagram @drewshoneybees