Bee Aware is an initiative that creates technology to protect the honeybee population and encourages individual action for large impacts.

Photo of Navya Rao
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Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: @beexaware (new account)

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

An often-overlooked population affected by climate change is the honeybee population, with more hives suffering from poor air quality conditions, increased pesticide use, and toxic plants. 70 out of the 100 food crops, which supply 90% of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees. Our community relies heavily on the pollination of bees for food supply, and the decline in their population poses a serious threat to everyone.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our app better analyzes the threats faced by bees and offers step-by-step action items for community members to help the bee population. We created the beta version of our app, Bee Aware, to analyze pesticide use and air quality index by region in California while implementing algorithms to present the data through an interactive map. The map allows users to easily compare the degree of threat honeybees face based on both air quality and pesticide use in different regions of California, and runs a relative comparison test to rank the degree of threat as low, neutral, high, or very high. The crux of our Interactive Map is a section where the app provides tangible solutions for users to take based on the specific threats bees face in their region— this allows users to focus on the best action item for them to take, customized for their location. Another feature of our app is a plant safety tester which allows home gardeners to test any plant against our database of 900 bee friendly/toxic plants to ensure that their garden will not harm honeybees. The final feature is a take action feature that provides location-specific action items for users to help their local bee populations.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

We combined our passion for protecting bees with our interest in STEM through an app, Bee Aware, that analyzes and presents the threats bees in California face by region and offers solutions for users to help honeybees. We used the skills we had developed in computer science, data analysis, and design thinking through high school classes and summer programs to best intertwine the foundations of STEM with key elements of product ideation to make our app user friendly. We researched the threats honeybees face and visited several websites of beekeepers around California to best gauge the most critical threats to address through our prototype solution. After research, we decided to address pesticide use and poor air quality conditions through our solution. After finding datasets from organizations such as the US Department of Agriculture and the California Air Resources Board, we developed algorithms to best sort and analyze the data before presenting it in a format easily understood by the average user.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

My family has been passionate about gardening for as long as I can remember, and we have several bushes and flowers in our yard. Earlier this year, I noticed several dead bees next to an azalea bush in my front yard and I was curious if there was a connection between the bees and the plant. After some research, I learned that several plants, including azaleas, are actually harmful to bees and contribute to their population decline— something that really confused me because I had always thought that plants were good for bees. In fact, I hadn’t given much thought to the bee population at all until then. I met up with my friend Aarushi and told her what I had learned and she was just as shocked as I was. We started researching honeybees and the different threats they face and decided to make a change to their declining population. With that, our app Bee Aware was born.

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

We were invited to be guest speakers for the National Geographic Youth Climate Summit in California (which was unfortunately cancelled because of the current health crisis). We continued to look for opportunities to showcase our research and were invited to present at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). We then spoke about our initiative on a podcast (after being invited by a representative of National Geographic) in order to spread information and inspire others.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our app is unique as it analyzes the effect of pesticide use and air quality on bees and offers users the opportunity to implement solutions in their lives to help honeybees. Our initiative is vested in the connection between technology and environmental sustainability, which depends on inspiring users to take action. Popular apps related to bees on the app store are either focused solely on spreading awareness of bees or on creating games that loosely connect to bees. Our initiative is unique as we combine data analysis, awareness, and action implementation in a single platform.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

Our initiative started three months ago, so we are primarily focused on the creation of our app. In the process we have developed algorithms to analyze data, created an interactive map, a plant safety tester, and a take action feature. We spread our passion for helping bees at conferences, presentations, and podcasts, allowing our initiative to reach hundreds around the world, dozens of which have begun to incorporate bee-friendly practices in their own lives. We have also been invited as speakers for the ISEF teacher board conference, and will be sharing our research and initiatives with dozens of teachers to further spread awareness for declining bee populations. We plan to meet with representatives of the US Agriculture Department over the next few months to share our analysis of pesticide use on declining bee populations to work with farmers to switch to bee-friendly pesticides.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

In the future we plan to incorporate real time data in our interactive map using Calenviroscreen. This would allow users to see live updates in their region as well as the most up to date solutions they can take to help their local honeybee population. We plan to create a virtual garden as an add on to our “take action” feature (which currently provides large action items broken down into small parts as a way to help community members become a part of the solution). The garden will work on a point system (as users complete more action items they will be awarded more points), and after a certain amount of points are built up they can redeem them for more plants, animals, and honeybees to add to their virtual garden!

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

We talked to our local high school community at a virtual Earth Day Research Seminar (an event meant to inspire through information) where we were invited as guest speakers. After our presentation over 50 students committed to creating bee-friendly gardens and advocated for decreased use of harmful pesticides. Other actions we have taken to create an impact have been sharing our initiatives through a podcast that can reach thousands of individuals around America when released.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

We are connected with an explorer from National Geographic regarding our initiative with Bee Aware, and she expressed interest working together in the future to develop more complex data analysis of declining honeybee populations. In the future, we hope to officially partner with National Geographic explorers such as herself who are both passionate to sustain the honeybee population and have resources to advance our technology and reach a wider audience.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

We will engage people by presenting clear statistics regarding the rate of declination of bees and the world’s reliance on them for survival. Especially with the recent introduction of murder hornets to North America, bees face an even greater threat of survival than ever before. After presenting the potential consequences of a reduced bee population, we will help participants understand the different ways to join our initiative, from coding to spreading awareness.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

Evaluation results

8 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Probably - 37.5%

Maybe - 12.5%

Probably not - 0%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 37.5%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 62.5%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 0%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 12.5%

4 - Yes, I think so - 87.5%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 100%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 12.5%

4 - Yes, I think so - 62.5%

3 - Maybe - 25%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 12.5%

4- Yes, I think so - 62.5%

3- Maybe - 25%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 71.4%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 57.1%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 42.9%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 14.3%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 28.6%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 20%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 40%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 20%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 40%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

Other option - 0%


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