The team behind the Moonshine Honey Project cares not just about sourcing delicious and high quality honey, but also about doing it in a way that is responsible and ethical.
If you start talking about honey to Devashish and Akshay of the Moonshine Honey Project, there’s no stopping them. Committed to sourcing high quality honey, the team—based in Pune—is equally invested in creating a community that appreciates what it takes to produce and source it. Moonshine Honey Project is a vertical of the Moonshine Meadery, founded in the hope of creating a supply chain for honey that is traceable and trustworthy.
Passionate about all things honey, Devashish Sutavani, who handles operations for the project, and Akshay Borse, their beekeeper, are involved in all aspects of beekeeping including caring for the bees, nursing bee stings, collecting the honey, filtering, and packing it. And, they care just as much about reviving a robust population of bees, long deemed vital to the health of an ecosystem. In Maharashtra, the honey production was one of the lowest, which can be attributed to the overuse of pesticides in farmlands in the state that have led to a decline in the bee population, in contrast to neighbouring Karnataka.
Ideally, in a multi-cropping system, different plants would flower at different intervals, and provide sustenance to bees for a longer period of time. But today, in India, most fields are covered in hues of a single crop in a season. And this has led to a system of beekeeping known as migratory beekeeping—bees are moved in boxes across fields, in an effort to provide the bees with food through different periods of time. Moonshine Honey Project’s bee boxes travel through Dheepri, Pali, and Doonda in Rajasthan.
While migratory boxes help the project source ethically produced honey, the team was also keen on increasing the population of bees in the Pune district—traditionally considered unsuitable for beekeeping due its heavy monsoons, which also drives up the costs. However, they found two farmers in Pune that practiced natural farming. These farms turned out to be the perfect playground for bees—Ashwin Paranjape’s Gorus Farm and Vivek Gour-Broome’s JE Farms.
Tracking bees, seeing when they are active, and understanding their behavior is a team effort, and something that requires Devashish and Akshay to work closely with their farmers. The process is educative: they draw lines that trace the movement of bees to the plant in bloom, and map these patterns to harvest data. This data, in turn, can help replicate these practices on other farms, and increase the bee population and yield of crops.
While managing the bee boxes are full of discovery, excitement, and disappointments as well, the Moonshine Honey Project is hopeful of carving out a space which values not just the honey, but also the work of the bees.
To read more about Moonshine Honey Project and their practices and efforts, check out our producer page here. This is a paid partnership with Moonshine Honey Project. We strive to keep the practices of a producer transparent and honest across all forms of partnerships.