Turning Solar Sites Into Pollinator-Friendly Habitats Is the Sweetest Idea
Travis and Chiara Bolton of St. Paul-based Bolton Bees partner with solar companies to host commercial bee operations. So far, the Boltons have established hives at Connexus Energy, the largest customer-owned power company in Minnesota, and at solar facilities in Farmington and Scandia owned by NRG Energy.
About 3,600 pounds of the first "Solar Honey" harvest has already been extracted from the three sites, Modern Farmer reported, with more honey to come in October. Bolton Bees is also looking into opening apiaries at solar sites in Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois.
The couple even trademarked the name "Solar Honey" and license it to other beekeepers, food producers and energy companies that agree to follow certain production standards.
"We hope that this model can be replicated throughout the nation," Travis Bolton told Modern Farmer.
The worldwide boom in solar energy has occurred simultaneously with the alarming rate of honeybee deaths. U.S. beekeepers lost 44 percent of their honey bee colonies from April 2015 to April 2016.
But this initiative from Bolton Bees is a win-win for both the environment and our precious pollinators alike.
"We have been humbled with all of the interest in the work that we have been doing," the company wrote on Facebook over the weekend. "We strongly believe in this collaboration. It is utilizing the land underneath solar panels—instead of just having gravel or cheap turf grass. Solar Energy is cheap, and being installed rapidly throughout the nation. The land should be used to plant healthy habitat for pollinators."
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New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.
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By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.