Their wings beat 200 times per second. They travel approximately three miles from the hive on average daily. They never sleep.
There are many reasons we call hard workers ‘busy bees’, but there’s more to the insect than its ability to fly a speed of 15 miles per hour. As pollinators, honey bees are incredibly vital to ecosystems. In the United States alone, honey bees pollinate 80 percent of all fruit, seed, and vegetable crops. In other words, the survival of the planet and its inhabitants depend on these tiny, incredible creatures.
The topic of bee decline has been buzzing since the 1990s, when an alarming rate of bees began to disappear. Between 2015 and 2016 alone, American beekeepers lost a detrimental 44 percent of bees. Many factors contribute to this decline, according to Greenpeace, including industrial agriculture, deforestation, and climate change. People are coming together to solve the issue and efforts are being made to reverse the loss of these essential insects.
A couple in Minnesota has come up with an incredibly sweet solution to help save the bees. By partnering with Connexus Energy, the largest customer-owned power company in Minnesota, Travis and Chiara Bolton of Bolton Bees have made solar sites into pollinator-friendly habitats. By utilizing the vast amount of land taken up by solar sites, the Boltons are “encouraging the creation of new foraging habitat under and around ground-mounted solar panels for a wide variety of pollinators, birds, and other wildlife.”
And it’s working.
Two other large companies wanted in on the Boltons’ trademark ‘Solar Honey’, and by following standards put forth by the couple, have filled 80 acres with apiaries — totaling around 40,000 homes and pollinator gardens for the bees.
So far, over 3,600 pounds of honey have been extracted from these sites, with more to come in October. The couple hopes to expand their concept into other states in the near future.
Bees are essential to the health of the planet, and with innovative solutions like Solar Honey, they are surely here to stay.
“Solar Honey ensures the productive use of farmland by stacking multiple benefits — clean solar energy, pollinator-friendly habitat, and local beekeeping — into each site. This tri-fecta only has positive repercussions.”