Anthony Virey with one of his hives. Photo: Deadass Beekeeping

Dear Neighbor,

We hope you are enjoying this last week of summer, both literally and figuratively, as NYC schools are set to resume classes next Monday (we think?). And for those who celebrate, Shana Tova. One typically rings in the Jewish New Year, which starts this Friday at sundown, by eating apples and honey. So it’s only fitting that this week we share the story of two newly minted beekeepers.

So, how does a born and bred New Yorker end up beekeeping in rural Pennsylvania? Four numbers: 2020.

When New York City locked down in March, Anthony Virey joined his uncle for what he thought would be a few weeks on the family’s 200-acre plot of land in Mount Pleasant, about an hour or so southeast of Pittsburgh.

As weeks turned into months and it became clear Covid-19 was not going away anytime soon, people around the world took up a plethora of hobbies. We baked, we cut hair, we gardened, we binged (food? Netflix? wine? all of the above?). Virey, 30 years old, along with his cousin, Don Antonio Santos, 25, took up beekeeping. It’s not, Virey told us, something people typically fall into. But his uncle had a few hives, and Virey had always been fascinated with bugs, so he figured, why not?

As the two cousins watched the country struggle — politically, socially and financially — they felt a sense of helplessness many of us know well.

Anthony Virey (L) and Don Antonio Santos (R) Photo: Deadass Beekeeping

So they created a business: Deadass Beekeeping.

“I think a lot of people, a lot of brands, a lot of everybody really, is kind of recalibrating right now and trying to hone in on purpose and why we do the things that we do,” Virey said. “We have all this time to think analytically and think deeper. We want to use a product like honey, because it’s such a sustainable product in and of itself, and positively affects the communities that made us who we are.” The cousins are Filipino-American and were raised between Queens and Long Island.

Deadass — we will save you a Google search — is a colloquial term New Yorkers use meaning “I’m serious” (like deadass serious, get it?).

A percentage of all proceeds will be donated to the environmental organization GrowNYC.

The first batch of Deadass Beekeeping honey goes on sale this Friday. Follow the company’s Instagram account for details on how to purchase.

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