Have you ever seen vertical beekeeping that reaches to the sky? Most hives are laid out horizontally on the ground.
Imagine the spectacular sight of approximately 700 wooden beehives hanging sky-high on a rocky cliff wall 4,000 feet above sea level on the side of a mountain in Shennongjia National Nature Reserve in central China’s Hubei Province.
This CCTV video is just 1:07-minutes long and shows beekeepers in action:
These boxes form an apiary and the bee colonies are packed in densely. They hang on a steep cliff to help boost the dwindling population of the Asian honey bees since there are fewer predators there to attack the bees. These hives attract the wild bees of the area to settle in the hive boxes on this rocky cliff wall since it is one of their favorite nesting places.
The beekeepers are to be commended for their fearlessness because this great wall of hives is enough to induce vertigo in anyone. They must climb to each hive and perch on the cliffs to check their bees, secure the hives, and collect the honey with a sling. Each hive houses many thousands of bees.
Although human survival depends on honey bee pollination for food production, bees have already virtually disappeared in parts of China, forcing hand-pollination and feather duster pollination by some farmers. The Daily Mail reported that bees are already extinct in the north and north east of China. The class of pesticides called neonicotinoids are suspected to play a role in bee population declines.
This unique apiary on a mountainside in the Far East has some great advantages for honey bees. Shennongjia Nature Reserve has a rare grouping of climate zones in a single area: subtropical, warm temperate, temperate and cold temperate. This allows for a rich variety of fauna and flora as well as pollen to grow, according to the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO.
The area is teeming with wildlife. In addition to the bees, there are 54 types of animals, 190 types of birds, 12 sorts of reptiles and 8 kinds of amphibians. And there are about 1,131 plant species and over 1,000 types of nectar.
While honeybees provide the farmers with cash income, they also make a living in the reserve from a diversified economy of raising cattle and pigs as well as collecting herbs for Chinese herbal medicine.
The CGTN video below is just 0:24 seconds long and it explains why the bees are raised on these cliffs, how the honey is collected and what is so special about the honey produced at the cliff.
The 1:10-minute video below is from different type of Chinese cliff beehives in southwest China's Yunnan Province. Three brothers called Yu climb up the cliff on rope ladders once a year to retrieve honey from bees living inside the rock wall. It is sad to see so many dead bees mixed in with the honey they collect.
Have you ever seen cliff-side apiaries anywhere in the world? We would love to know where!