NANCHANG — Early each morning, Liu Huangping carefully places beehives around his house, preparing to welcome his tiny guests with spaces to nest.
"It's about the time honeybees usually arrive, and we'll harvest their honey in August," said the 50-year-old from Gangbei village in Jiangxi province, who has been keeping bees for about 20 years.
Gangbei neighbors the Jiangxi Jiulingshan National Nature Reserve and boasts a forest coverage rate of 93 percent.
"This healthy environment is perfect for beekeeping," said Liu, adding that the wild honey produced there is high quality, as beekeepers only harvest it once a year.
Roughly 50 households in the village are engaged in apiculture.
"Only about five households used to keep bees, but the sizable and stable income from beekeeping has drawn more villagers into the business," he said.
In 2015, a cooperative was set up to train villagers in apiculture and help them sell honey.
"We teach them modern beekeeping techniques to increase production and provide them with regular sales channels. Villagers have almost no trouble selling," said Wu Zhulin, Party branch secretary of Gangbei.
According to Wu, there were 1,200 beehives in the village at the end of last year, producing an annual yield of up to 6,750 kilograms of wild honey worth 600,000 yuan ($87,165).
The sweet business of apiculture has made villagers prosperous, and in 2017, Gangbei was officially lifted out of poverty.
In 2021, Liu was invited to join a local company specializing in cultural tourism. He was put in charge of promoting agricultural produce through tourism.
"I know our honey better than anyone, and tourists are our main potential buyers," he said, emphasizing the importance of branding and packaging, adding that his team even shot a promotional video for honey last year to attract more tourists.
A State Council executive meeting in March urged efforts to advance rural vitalization across the board, foster rural industries with local characteristics, and create more channels for increasing rural incomes.
To broaden the marketability of wild honey produced in this remote village, the government of Jing'an county invited e-commerce companies to Gangbei to promote honey products via livestreaming.
"Now, our honey is available on many e-commerce platforms," said Qi Weixing, deputy director of the county's agriculture and rural affairs bureau. "We also invited experts to train villagers about agricultural produce and encourage them to get involved in industries with local characteristics."