By CCTV reporter Laura Luo
Finally tonight, we bring you a very sweet story. China has long been the worlds top producer of honey. But, consumers’ concerns about fake honey have driven export values down. Our reporter Laura Luo visited a schoolhouse near the Great Wall of China, and found demand for organic honey has created a hive of activity.
At the foot of the Great Wall of China.
there is a school house that combines dining, lodging, and teaching about the environment under one roof.
Its owner is Jim Spear, an American who has lived in China for almost three decades. He designed and built the schoolhouse seven years ago, on the relics of an unused village primary school. The restaurant, the hotel, and even the cobbled lanes, everything was built from scratch.
The classroom is a special highlight of the schoolhouse. It is used to teach young and old about the relationships between the local environment and the community, and raises awareness about sustainable development.
"What I mean by sustainable, is first of all the impact we have on the local community is to support people here and to provide jobs near their home. Our aim as a sustainable tourism business is to multiple small-scale front-ends that are tight together by a common backroom. What the guests see is an abandoned schoolhouse has been turned into a restaurant." Jim Spear, Owner of the Schoolhouse said.
The guests develop an appetite for home-grown vegetables and fruit. The rest of the food and ingredients is bought from local suppliers, but Spear always makes sure it is natural and free of pesticides.
"We work with a variety of suppliers who produce for us. And the honey production is an example of that. This is an area where there are many orchards, where they need the bees to pollinate the fruit. So there are several bee keepers in the area who make honey the old fashion way, and then sell it raw and unprocessed to people who come to their places of business. In the schoolhouse we exclusively use honey that’s purchased from local beekeepers." Jim Spear said.
"One of the businesses that is delivering products to the schoolhouse is this local honey beekeeper. The honey here is guaranteed natural and genuine, which brings some sweat reassurance to consumers who are worries about fake honey products in the market. " Laura Luo said.
Sun Zihe, the beekeeper, teaches locals, city dwellers from nearby Beijing, as well as tourists from abroad why bees are important in the ecology system, and how you can differentiate real honey from fake one.
"You see this honey dripping? If it pulls back just before it breaks up, it’s real honey. Fake one would just drop see this?" Sun Zihe, Owner of Tian He Tong Bee Farm said.
Every day, people flock to the bee school to get a hands-on experience of the production process as well as a taste of the honey.
"It’s really important to support local businesses. It’s been really cool to see how they actually make the honey. I can take some back to see my dad and tell him I actually see how this is all been made. And support small businesses." Hege Helene Reistad, Tourist from Norway said.
The bees have not only kept bringing in pollen and nectar but also increased the income for Mr Sun and his wife. Most of his honey is made from nectar of flowering plants, such as the locust trees. It is the highest quality class of honey products and usually exported to overseas markets.
"Over the last couple of years the Beijing municipality has put in great effort to support bee farmers in their business development and providing subsidies. This year, I plan to expand to 150 hives. The economic effect comes very fast, the impact is really significant and increases the income of beekeepers." Sun Zihe said.
And here comes the most exciting part. harvesting the honey.
Sun takes out frames fully filled with honey, gives it a gentle shake to see if it leaks out from the cells. If it doesn’t, it means the honey is cured.
He shovels away the wax that capped the cells, which will be stored for industrial use. He then puts two frames into a deep iron bucket, and starts turning it.
The honey separate from the cells by the movement. It is then collected and packed into jars.
Now the honey is ready to flow into the local supply chain of businesses that support each other to create a healthy environment for future generations.