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.


Roshni Nair

Roshni P. Nair joins us from Reuters, where she was an online producer. With a background in weekend features at Hindustan Times and DNA, Roshni has written on subjects ranging from India’s amateur UFO investigators to the provenance of sambhar. When not pursuing story ideas, she enjoys reading, making a great cuppa adrak chai, playing with street dogs, and avoiding large gatherings. Roshni will work out of Mumbai and can be reached at roshni at the rate

View Full Profile

Sign up to our India edition to read this story instantly

To sign up, you’ll create an account that will give you access to a new free story published once a week and archive of 214+ previously published free stories from our India edition. You’ll also receive one email every morning from us introducing the day’s story.

If you’ve already signed up, just enter your email below or login using Facebook or Google.