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700 Beehives Hang Off This Rocky Cliff to Boost Dwindling Bee Populations

The Shennongjia Nature Reserve in central China has an unusual approach to boost the country's dwindling bee population: a sky-high, vertical apiary.

Roughly 700 wooden beehives hang from a cliff 4,000 feet above sea level on a mountain in the conservation area. According to People's Daily Online, this vertigo-inducing "wall of hives" is meant to attract the area's wild bees into settling in the boxes, as it mimics their natural habitats.

To get to the boxes, beekeepers have to climb to each one individually. The hives contain thousands upon thousands of bees.

As you might know, global food production is dependent on pollination provided by honey bees and other pollinators. But in some parts of China, bees have virtually disappeared, forcing some farmers to pollinate their crops by hand with feather dusters.

The website Xinhua.net reported (via The Daily Mail), that in China's north and north east, bees have become extinct. Other areas in China are also seeing bee populations decline, the publication said.

It is suspected that neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides known to have acute and chronic effects on honey bees and other pollinator species, is a major factor in overall global bee population declines. Twenty-nine independent scientists conducted a global review of 1,121 independent studies and found overwhelming evidence of pesticides linked to bee declines.

As beekeepers and conservationists around the world try to solve the plight of colony collapse disorder, this extraordinary apiary in in the Far East seems to be seeing some success, The Daily Mail reported.

Why build an apiary on a mountain? According to the National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO, the Shennongjia Nature Reserve is unique in that its location has several different climates zones in a single area—subtropical, warm temperate, temperate and cold temperate—which allows for a rich variety of fauna and flora (as well as ample pollen) to grow.

Along with the bees, approximately 1,131 species of plants grow in the reserve, along with 54 kinds of animals, 190 kinds of birds, 12 kinds of reptile and 8 kinds of amphibian.

The commission said that the main cash income of the farmers living in the reserve is "mainly based on a diversified economy by raising cattle, pigs and beekeeping as well as collecting the Chinese herbal medicine etc."

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