5 insightful TED talks on Honey Bees

18 Nov

We have selected 5 insightful TED talks on Honeybees, from beekeepers to scientists, all bee lovers, and all speaking about the importance of the honey bees. By watching these 5 short videos, you will learn about their origins, their relationship with human, why they are disappearing and how you could help them.

John Miller: No bees, No food – March 2014

John Miller is a commercial beekeeper who you might have caught a glimpse of in the documentary ‘More than honey.’ His grandfather was making his living by selling honey, but times have change and Miller makes his living not by selling honey any more but by offering the service of pollination. He travels with his 12,000 colonies all over USA and pollinates fields. This unique approach makes him standout among a crop of commercial American beekeepers. He is telling us more in this TED talk:


Marla Spivak: Why bees are disappearing? – September 2013

This TED talk is led by Marla Spivak, a distinguished McKnight University Professor in Apiculture and Social Insects. She is explaining us how bees are disappearing due to diseases and parasites, pesticides, monoculture and a flowerless landscape devoid of any biodiversity. It’s no secret that the honeybee population is on the decline and the main reason for this is the change in our farming practices. For example, we stopped planting cover crops and start using chemicals fertilizers. Monocultural practice and relentless use of fertilizer and weed killer have ensured that our landscape is gradually turning into a desert for bees.


Dino Martins: The human and the honeybees – June 2013

“Both honeybees and humans originated in East Africa and the connection between us has survived the ages.”

Dino Martins, entomologist and teacher at Turkana Basin Field school and explorer at National Geographic gives us a short but really fascinating talk. He shows how insects and in particular honey bees are connected to human beings. Showing examples of bees pollination all over the world and their importance for the livelihoods of people.


Noah Wilson Rich: Every city needs healthy honey bees – April 2013

This TED talk is done by Noah Nilson Rich, Doctorant in Biology and founder of Best bees, a company which delivers, installs, and manages honey bee hives for residents and businesses throughout eastern Massachusetts. He promotes urban bee keeping and its benefits. Imagine all roof tops everywhere, creating food crops in the city.The pilot project started in Paris and it is now catching on all over the world.


Dennis Vanengelsdorp: Where have the bees gone? – December 2008

Dennis Van Engelsdorp, assistant Professor in the department of entomology at the University of Maryland was one of the early advocates of the health of honey bees and has spoken extensively about bees disappearing and what could be the root cause of this problem. Yearly, around 30% of the population of bees vanish in America.  After spending time with local and commercial beekeepers, he goes through all the possibilities of why and where the bees could have gone.





March Timeline: Visitors time

8 Apr

Students from Mahindra pride school paid a visit to our bee garden this month to observe and learn the best practices of bee gardening. They looked at the wide variety of plants that were growing in the garden. Plants in the bee garden serve as fuel for bees and they flock the garden for nectar and pollen. Multi-fold benefits of a bee garden, which include serving bees and humans, were explained to the students at our bee garden; nectar from Chia is a great source for Omega 3.DSC_0254 - Copy

We picked up seeds from our own bee garden to start our own biodynamic seed bank! When we have enough number of seeds, we may also plan to distribute these seeds in the village.DSC_0524

We are continuing to teach our partners how to make candles from the wasted wax, which can be really useful in the village – electricity is a luxury there!DSC_0288 - Copy

 To celebrate the end of the harvesting season of coffee, we organized an event that saw coffee taster from around the world get together to taste our coffee and to meet their makers. Our CEO Manoj Kumar was present at this event along with Mr. Rajeev Dubey (President – Mahindra & Mahindra Group HR, Corporate Services & After-Market and Member of the Mahindra & Mahindra Group Executive Board). We also planted 3,000,000’th tree in the region during this event – an important milestone for Project Hariyali!


Coffee flowers started blossoming – do you remember my article on the effect that coffee has on bees? I could not capture a bee on the flower but here’s a picture of the coffee flower blossom.DSC_0373

We also introduced our programme to a new village, Gangaiguda, which incidentally had more women than men, who sat in groups.DSC_0437 - Copy


World Congress on Agroforestry 2014 – New Delhi

24 Mar

The good folks at ICRAF invited Naandi Foundation to the World Agroforestry Congress held in Delhi between the 10th to 15th February 2014. The event opened on a chilly Monday morning with an inaugural address introduction from the Indian president Pranab Mukherjee. The President then felicitated adults and kids from across India with awards for their work on biodiversity. The engaging luncheon presented us with a buffet of ideas and cuisine. People from across the world introduced their work as everybody broke “naan” together. With everyone having introduced themselves the gathering split up into six workshops.

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The second day saw the president of the Livelihoods Venture, Bernard Giraud, gave an introductory address in the morning and speak about improving nutrition through Agroforestry. He spoke about the livelihoods network camp hosted by Naandi in October 2011 at Araku. He also spoke of the Hariyali (Greenery) Project through which Danone and Mahindra ambitiously hopes to plant 6 million fruit and coffee saplings by 2016. We met with him briefly to discuss the best way forward for the Pollinator Programme. It was a pleasure to meet back some old friend like Behinda from Indonesia who was also present in Araku livelihoods network last year.

The event was divided into six workshops – all of them dealing with key livelihoods and social enterprise. Our workshop focused more on biodiversity. Time became a constraint as everybody was keen to share their work, there was nothing in it as everybody’s presentations and areas of work were fascinating. Coffee 2


We really appreciate the platform the Congress provided to learn about projects across the world. While our tireless pursuit for sustainability carries on, it feel truly special to mingle with like-minded people and get recognition for our efforts. We look forward to participating in events of this nature (pun intended).

The goal of the conference was to show that the best way to develop in a sustainable way an area by linking research, practical aspect and government goal and how to link the farmers directly to the consumers without passing by the middle man. By doing this, it allow us to get better quality product as well as a better value for money for the consumers.

To conclude, the World Agroforesty Congress was a great opportunity to understand the different needs in the rural livelihoods space. We thank the organizers of the conference and ICRAF for their support.

February Timeline: Swarming season and the Indian summer

8 Mar

DSC_0239 - CopyWe’re happy to report a very fruitful February for the Pollinator Programme. The month started with the partners learning to divide colonies more efficiently. We’ve trained our partners to divide the hive during swarming season. According to the region and the climatic conditions, the period of swarming varies greatly from one site to another. It generally happens a few months after the beginning of the flowering season. In Araku, swarming happens from January to March, as well as at the beginning of the monsoon, in June. We were pleasantly surprised to find one of the colonies we divided in Kotagumam had more than 5 queen cells! The hive was carried around a kilometer from the mother hive,  to avoid the possibility of worker bees coming back to their initial address. The new colony has been put in a coffee plantation on a tree which is locally called Madi tree.

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We also had a visit from our mother bee, Briony Young, who brought us the original Sunhive last year. We loved sharing our ideas with her and have constantly been in touch with her throughout the last year for her valuable inputs on the programme. She was impressed by the progress that our partners had made and offered a training session on how to plant bee-friendly trees and plants around hives. She is an expert biodynamic farmer and spends her time shuttling between her native Zimbabwe and England.

With the onset of summer our bee garden has suffered. The soil is becoming harder and we are doing a séance of CPP (Cow Pat Pit) Biodynamic method to improve the quality of the soil- can be called a super fertilizer. The sultry South Indian summer does have a silver lining, with the mango flower season starting. Mango is more of a pollen supplier tree, meaning our bees are in for a treat!


Back to Hyderabad were I visited the farm of our good friend and biodynamic farmer, Anjali Rudraraju. She is working on creating a Sunhive on her biodynamic farm as well. She has a lot of Apis florea on her plot and we also observed the presence on the Borage flower of our little friends Apis cerana. You can check out more about Anjali’s farm and her work on her Mitti and Mango Nation Facebook page.



More than just Honey: The challenges of Indian Agriculture

7 Mar

Flipping through the Indian Express a couple of days ago, I came across an article titled ‘More than just Honey‘, concerning honey bees in Punjab. The headline immediately reminded me of the movie ‘More than Honey.’ A little bit of history to understand the context of this article. The Punjab university was the first to introduce the Apis mellifera species to India in the 70’s. The article focused on the fact that honey bees provide a host of livelihoods options, apart from the obvious economic benefit from honey production. The article stressed that by breeding queens, harvesting royal jelly, recolting propolis it will bring an easy livelihoods to the farmers but could has as well a negative effect.

My concern is with India’s agriculture already heavily industrialized soon we will be in the same situation than the US where honey bees are being over stressed. By not working in symbiosis anymore with the bees, by adding already made bee wax sheet, by over selecting the best queens, and pumping the bees with antibiotics  we are ensuring that the breed is weakening and more vulnerable. If the government continues on, soon the Apis mellifera of India will disappear and will be affected by Colony Collapse Disorder. This aggressive industrialization of Apis mellifera will eventually force the beekeeper to revert back to the practice of working with Apis cerana. Asian bees are more adapted to this climate and require minimal management.

People seems to have forgotten that the main role of honey bees is the pollination of crops which link to food supply. Without them, the farmers will have an inferior yield, a lower market as well as less nutritional value as it has been proven that due to the presence of honey bees yields increase from 30 to 200%. We at ApiAnon see at as an integral function of our little friends, more so than the mass production of honey. We wish to create awareness on this situation and highlight the plight of our little friends.

Timeline January 2014: Happy New Year from the Araku Valley

6 Feb

We’ve been busy over the new year period and haven’t been able to update everybody. A belated New Year greetings to all! The new year promises much for the women beekeepers of the Araku Valley.


As per the lunar calendar the residents of the Emerald Valley celebrated their new year, two weeks into the year on Makar Sankranti. Celebrated across India and even parts of Nepal, the Hindu harvest festival holds a special significance for farmers. As the Araku Valley found itself amidst festive revelry, we were engaged on Dr. Patel’s bio-dynamic farm in Baroda, Gujarat.


At the farm, we spoke about the bio-dynamic Sun hive which is currently in the process of being redesigned to adapt to the local bee population. We were happy to present it to the people present at the workshop. Thanks to the natural beekeeping trust of England we We also highlighted our efforts towards natural beekeeping practices.


To have healthy bees, we need healthy plants and for this the soil needs to be nutritious. The practice of bio-dynamic agriculture ensures the soil is revitalized. If you are interested and want to know know more about this type of agriculture, check their website:

Back in Araku, our partners are slowly filling their hives. What a joy to see the girls learning how to handle the bees without fear. The bees are also extremely active at this time of the year. The buzzing of bees is music to our ears, we’re expecting several colonies to swarm to our specially built hives

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The bee garden is growing and slowly changing. We recently made a Pagoda and introduce one Newton hive and one sun hive. And for the first time in history, a swarm established in the redesigned hive and started making a comb. It is an immense hope to have our sun hive filled with the Asian bees. After so many effort on adapting the Size, make the template, find someone who could do it and which was able to do it in bulk and constantly. We are making it in rice straw and they are not using a plastic bottle to respect the size they can do it only with their hands! Amazing, right?


December 2013: The Bee Garden comes to the Araku Valley

22 Jan

Of late, we’ve observed a great improvement in beekeeping skills of our women beneficiaries. We’ve reached out to over eighty women in Araku Valley and there are encouraging signs for the near future.

copyThe majority of our women beneficiaries have overcome their fear of bees and showing a keen interest in taking up the task. We recently had a visit from Senior Advisor Sustainability and Shared Value Creation at Danone, Bernard Giraud. Danone, in partnership with Naandi Foundation has been working towards livelihoods solutions in the Araku Valley. He was impressed by what he saw and amazed by the lack of fear among our women while handling the bees. The local tribes people in Araku  have an ingrained sense of harmony with nature, as do each and every one of our beneficiaries.Visit

Another bit of exciting news, the Pagoda of the bee garden has been built and is ready to welcome the bees.  The Hariyali (Greenery) Project has helped us ensure that we have the most bee-friendly plants around our ‘Bee Shangri-La.’ Plants. A range of tomatoes, basil, lychees and even strawberries snugly wrap our bee sanctuary in the Central Nursery in Hukumpetta. To guaranty to  establish a bee sanctuary, and thanks to the practice of biodynamic agriculture, we are slowly improving the soil which will lead to healthy bees.

bee garden

beeWe’re welcoming visitors in Araku Valley to come check us out and let us know what you think.