For three years, Jaya Narah canvassed the mercifully untouched, but criminally under-researched eastern Himalayas with little more than a sweep net, airtight containers and Boroplus. The ointment offered some respite from bumblebee stings—which she insists weren’t that bad anyway. One, the pain subsides in a day or two. Two, bumblebees aren’t as aggressive as their honeybee cousins. Three, Narah had greater obstacles to contend with: unforgiving weather, landslides, transport bottlenecks.
Hers was a 614km quest to study bumblebee behaviour in India’s easternmost state, Arunachal Pradesh—from the evergreen forests of Pasighat to the frigid Sela Pass. What started as a project on how pollinators adapt to different altitudes has also become an inflection point.