Hive Five for Largest Solar Farm Apiary in America

June 19, 2018 by

largest solar farm apiary in America with 48 hives

The largest solar farm apiary in America will come alive at Old Sol Apiaries in Oregon, with 48 hives arriving on the site just in time for National Pollinator Week, June 18-22.

largest solar farm apiary in America with 48 hives

Old Sol’s founder, John Jacob, says that the solar farm will create revenue for employing ecologists to managing vegetation on the site, and will also generate energy to be converted directly into electricity for nearby schools, businesses, and residents. 

largest solar farm apiary in America with 48 hives

An Environmental Stewardship Initiative to Promote Sustainable Agriculture
The apiaries will find a new home on the Eagle Point solar farm, a pollinator solar array in Jackson County, Oregon, owned by utility-scale solar developer, PineGate Renewables.

largest solar farm apiary in America with 48 hives

After examining the site’s seed mix, vegetation management plan, and early growth of native flowers and grasses, Jacob determined the farm would offer safe refuge for his 48 hives of honey bees. Old Sol has partnered with PineGate as part of the solar company’s SolarCulture initiative, an environmental stewardship initiative that promotes sustainable agriculture and collaboration with communities to support research for intelligent solar development.

largest solar farm apiary in America with 48 hives

Pollinator-friendly solar sites use low-growing meadows of native flowers and grasses to enrich top soils and capture storm water to benefit pollinators.

“In 2016/17, Oregon beekeepers reported losing nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies statewide,” said Jacob. “The pollinator-friendly solar sites PineGate Renewables is developing can play an important role in helping address the population crisis among our managed and native pollinators.”

largest solar farm apiary in America with 48 hives and pollinator arrays

Since its inception in 1997, Jacob has guided the family run business to promote sustainable agriculture and a healthy environment by implementing organic farming practices, permaculture, integrated pest management, profitable habitat restoration, and other innovative farming practices.

bees at largest solar farm apiary in America with 48 hives and pollinator arrays

Old Sol’s on-site entomologist has many years of field experience with honey bees and horticulture. Daily apiary operations address problems such as Varroa mites, which the farm controls with an integrated pest management approach that includes food grade essential oils, data collection, sustainable use of acaricides, and most importantly, a cutting edge bee breeding program.

Old Sol Apiaries largest solar farm apiary in America with 48 hives and pollinator arrays

Jacob recognizes that a cleaner environment will require a global culture to adopt a new paradigm. He believes that the dire consequences of the “old ways” of doing things have led to “many insidious and intractable problems including the release of toxic chemicals into our environment, habitat loss and a treadmill of pesticide addiction as pests and pathogen species evolve resistance to an ever-increasing number of insecticides and antibiotics.”

pollinating bees at largest solar farm apiary in America with 48 hives and pollinator arrays

Benefits Associated with Solar Farm Apiaries
• Native plant species incorporated into on-site revegetation efforts support pollinators and their crucial crop pollination services. These pollinator habitats create a rippling effect that benefits the local farms and economy.

• Incorporating solar into farming helps develop sustainable agriculture by utilizing knowledge from local groups to craft seed mixes and maintenance plans enabling production to thrive for generations to come. 

• The system helps strengthen the economy by supporting local jobs through the hiring of landscape contractors for the installation and ongoing maintenance of native vegetation restoration sites, while collaborating with local farmers who harvest the crops within the solar project.

bees at largest solar farm apiary in America with 48 hives and pollinator arrays

Over 20 acres of high diversity pollinator habitat in Oregon currently power over 4,575 homes. The state also boasts more than 160 acres dedicated to native plant restoration.  

PineGate’s partners for the project include Butterfly Pavilion, Fresh Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Regenerate, Ash Creek Forestry Management, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, and OSU Small Farm Extension Agent, Amy Garrett.

Photos via Old Sol Apiaries and PineGate Renewables.

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