Across China: Sweet business of apiculture goes digital in NW China
YINCHUAN, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Before daybreak, when millions of honeybees start a day's work, awakening a hillside apiary in the Liupan Mountain, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the beekeeper Ma Yong, however, is still sleeping soundly at his home ten miles away.
Thanks to data analysis and a smart-apiary display system, Ma can keep the bees "at his fingers."
"Just with a few clicks on my mobile phone, I get a whole picture about the situations of those little things," said the 45-year-old apiarist, who only visits the apiary twice a month.
Located in the central part of the Liupan Mountain, Xiaqiao Village in Ningxia's Jingyuan County, where Ma lives, is home to more than 530 kinds of Chinese medicinal herbs and boasts numerous high-quality natural bee yards. Locally produced honey has always been well received across the country.
A pillar industry for the county, the sweet honey business has become more sci-tech driven in recent years, with pilot digital apiaries and high-quality nectar sources taking shape.
The digital apiary of Ningxia Tianmu Apiculture Co., Ltd., where Ma works, has 200 hives of honeybees, each with a small fan, an electric blanket, and a surveillance camera to monitor and regulate the temperature and humidity. Ma gets the real-time data of each hive via his mobile phone, which improves the apiculture efficiency.
"I used to check them one by one for at least six minutes each," said Ma. "Keeping those bees needed at least three experienced apiarists in the past, but now I can handle this alone."
China has made sci-tech-driven agriculture a major task of the country's agricultural modernization in recent years. It aims to build up a group of world agriculture science and technology centers by the end of 2035, said a plan for developing science and technology in agriculture and rural areas during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) period.
"Digital apiculture is a good practice of developing sci-tech and modernized agriculture," said Ye Baoping with the science and technology bureau of Jingyuan County.
Ye added that instead of introducing queen bees to the county from outside, beekeepers in Jingyuan could breed the queen bees on their own now, which has massively enhanced both the honey output and the survival rate of bees.
The booming apiculture has brought great prosperity to residents. Official data shows that there had been over 35,000 hives of bees in Jingyuan by the end of 2021, with an annual yield of 300,000 kg of honey worth more than 50 million yuan (about 7.5 million U.S. dollars).
According to Ma Hongyan with the Jingyuan industrial technology research institute, experts of the institute now focus on topics including the complete life circle of honeybees and the whole industry chain of the honey, developing 15 honey-related products such as bee milk and honey vinegar.
Amazed by the power of science and technologies, Ma Yong said he has complete confidence in the apiculture development in Jingyuan, an industry bringing him more than 3,000 yuan a month.
Though already a veteran apiarist, Ma is always eager for more bee-related knowledge. "I still have a lot to learn concerning scientific beekeeping," he said.