Honey production soars as bees thrive in solar panel fields in Spain

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The bee population and honey production have increased in a city in southwestern Spain thanks to modern technology combined with traditional techniques. For five generations, Juan Ignacio Lopez and his family have kept bees and produced honey in Carmona, near Seville.

Beekeeping has a long and proud history in the city, helping to make Spain the top EU country for honey production. As well as boosting the economy, Ignacio told CGTN Europe that bees are also a vital part of the global ecosystem.

“Due to pesticides and climate change, there is almost no natural insect population,” he said. “Bees are one of the last insect species still surviving in the wild, but even they are endangered. Without bees, much of the food we eat today wouldn’t exist.”

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However, in this corner of southern Spain, bees are thriving thanks to the Solar Apiary project run by energy company Endesa.

It is an example of Agrivoltaic, the simultaneous use of land for solar energy and agriculture.

“The apiary, otherwise known as a collection of hives, sits in a vast expanse of wildflowers and plants that have been planted between the solar panels and left to grow naturally. And that means no herbicides, no agricultural chemicals , making it a perfect place to be a habitat for bees and other pollinating insects,” he continued.

Fields between solar panels in southern Spain provide the perfect mix of biodiversity to sustain the bee population./Rahul Pathak/CGTN Europe

Fields between solar panels in southern Spain provide the perfect mix of biodiversity to sustain the bee population./Rahul Pathak/CGTN Europe

High-tech hives

Bees also benefit from the help of the high-tech variety as their hives are all equipped with special sensors to measure temperature and humidity.

Hive entrances are also opened and closed at certain times, to regulate internal air circulation.

And everything is monitored from a special control center.

Since Endesa opened this facility in 2020, honey production has increased and what’s more, the solar plant itself generates enough electricity for 30,000 homes while preventing 1.2 million tonnes of CO2 from escaping. found in the atmosphere each year.

Inmaculada Fiteni, head of sustainability projects at Endesa, says the project is the first of its kind.

“It’s the first time we’ve created a hybridization between beekeeping and renewable energy,” she said.

“We also have an agro-voltaic project there, which allows the cultivation of aromatic plants in synergy with beekeeping and this thanks to the high degree of pollination of these real plants.”

Similar solar power plants from other energy companies have been built in the regions of Andalusia and Extremadura.

A perfect example of an ancient tradition of beekeeping aided by very modern technology.


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