Making Honey Without the Bee: Darko Mandich Inventor
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that bee colonies are collapsing around the world due to a number of persistent threats such as global warming, pesticides and yes, murder hornets.
And while that may present a challenge to the $7 billion honey industry, the focus on honey production is itself problematic for the broader bee ecosystem, since farmed honeybees compete with wild bees for food and ultimately can hurt biodiversity.
All of which is why a Serbian bee industry executive by the name of Darko Mandich became fascinated with the idea of making honey without the bees. If this sounds crazy to you, don’t worry: Darko’s soon-to-be cofounder, Aaron Schaller, initially thought it was crazy too when they first discussed the idea.
But eventually, Schaller (a molecular scientist from the University of Cal Berkeley) saw the potential in bee-less honey and soon after, MeliBio was born. From there, the nascent startup pitched their concept to Big Idea Ventures and was accepted into the future food accelerator.
Now the company is busy developing its technology to create a honey that replicates the taste, texture and mouthful of real honey, all without bees. As Darko tells me on this podcast, MeliBio is using fermentation to essentially recreate the process through which bees convert nectar to honey. The startup hopes to have its first product on the market by late 2021.