Andrew DeMeo ’18 wants to put flowers in your yard and honey on your table and create a better world for you and your children. Thanks to a $5,000 check from the 2017 NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge to fund his cooperative beekeeping business, Honey Do, he and his partner Jessica Waters from Londonderry are on their way to doing just that.
Standing in front of the audience during the challenge's final presentations with a beekeeping hat hanging from a strap around his neck, DeMeo had command of the room at UNH's Holloway Commons as soon as he finished his opening sentence.
“Lots of people are afraid of bees, so when I tell them I want to put 20 billion bees back into America, they look at me like they’ve just been stung,” he said. “But I do, and I’m not the only one. I’ve talked to people all over New Hampshire who understand the social and environmental value of bees.”
With the ease of a practiced salesperson, DeMeo explained why his business, which would charge residential and commercial customers a one-time fee to install a hive on their properties, will be a success.
Honey Do, he said, is a win for the environment, for consumers and for bees.
“Right now being a commercial beekeeper means strapping 400 hives to a semi-truck, driving them across the country to some massive monoculture farm filled with pesticides where bees can’t even live naturally,” DeMeo explained. “Then to keep them alive and awake you have to feed them high-fructose corn syrup stuffed with antibiotics. The stress of this process along with the spread of disease and the dangerous pesticides involved are all associated with the decline of bees. And it’s not great for us either.”
The upfront cost includes lifetime maintenance of the hive, and along with the ecological benefits of honeybees, customers will also receive half of their hive’s harvested product: single-source, sustainably produced honey that is healthier and higher quality than most commercially available varieties.
As part of the award, DeMeo and Waters will also receive a social entrepreneur membership and a complimentary registration to the annual NH Businesses for Social Responsibility conference and a start-up/entrepreneur membership provided by the New Hampshire Clean Tech Council.
The NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge, which is organized by the UNH Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise, invites individuals and teams from across the state of New Hampshire, as well as all UNH alumni, to identify pressing social and/or environmental issues at the state, national or global level, and then find an innovative business-oriented approach to solving them.