Solar Fields Help Bees Produce “Solar Honey”

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Beekeepers Chiara and Travis Bolton sell their honey under a number of different names including Solarwise. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press)

When it comes to solar power, smart land, and business practices can lead to some excellent opportunities. Thanks to these smart practices, honeybees, and solar power have found an unlikely partnership. Solar farms, which often require large tracts of land, are being used as havens for honeybees.

After a number of solar companies realized that they could put the land around solar farms to good use as “pollinator friendly” habitat. Companies like the Minnesota-based energy company Connexus Energy, have collaborated with their local beekeepers to set beehives in the same fields where solar power panels were installed. Connexus and other companies have filled their solar fields with native flowers and grasses, instead of turf grass and gravel.

Connexus Energy even creates “solar honey” which they sell to customers who utilize the solar energy they produce. In addition to the honeybee hives, the Connexus solar site also has a garden beneath which includes 10 species of native grasses and 36 species of flowers, which provide nectar to the bees. More and more solar companies are realizing the economic benefits of smart land use and the environmental benefits given to beleaguered bee populations. Given this fact, it wouldn’t be too surprising if you start seeing “solar honey” products at your local Whole Foods in the future.