Connexus makes solar sweeter

Fifteen beehives are producing honey at Connexus Energy's solar installation.

Fifteen beehives are producing honey at Connexus Energy’s Ramsey, Minn., SolarWise garden.

Solar array hosts Bolton Bees’ apiary

Connexus Energy’s pollinator-friendly community solar garden is not only generating renewable energy, it is also producing honey. Bolton Bees installed 15 beehives at Connexus Energy’s SolarWise garden in Ramsey, Minn., and has managed and expanded the hives throughout the summer.

“We believe our SolarWise solar garden is the first solar garden in the country that will be producing commercially available honey,” said Samantha Neral of Connexus Energy. “Following Minnesota’s adoption of a law and statewide standard for pollinator-friendly solar, our array was evaluated and scored well above the level required to call it ‘exemplary pollinator habitat.’ To us, bee hives at a pollinator-friendly solar garden seem like the natural next step. Bolton Bees – with their expertise, professionalism and commitment to site-specific honey – was the right partner.”

Travis and Chiara Bolton of Bolton Bees, a first-generation business, breed Minnesota-hardy queen bees in addition to producing a line of distinct, location-specific honey that is sold to select restaurants and retailers.

“We carefully select properties throughout Minnesota for our apiaries. With its abundance of pollinator-friendly flowers, the Connexus solar garden is the perfect environment for a healthy bee location.”

The honey produced at Connexus Energy’s site will be harvested this fall. A portion of the honey will be named SolarWise Honey after Connexus Energy’s successful community solar garden program and will be given to solar garden subscribers and donated to local community fundraising events.