February 15, 2016 — In northwestern India, the Himalaya Mountains rise sharply out of pine and cedar forests. The foothills of the Kullu Valley are blanketed with apple trees beginning to bloom. It’s a cool spring morning, and Lihat Ram, a farmer in Nashala village, shows me a small opening in a log hive propped against his house. Stout black-and-yellow native honeybees — Apis cerana — fly in and out.
For centuries beehives have been part of the architecture of mountain homes here, built into the thick outside walls. Traditionally wild colonies of bees found the hive themselves, or farmers brought a log with a hive in it from the surrounding forest so the inhabitants could set up shop in the village and produce honey for their human caretakers.