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Making Solar Sweeter: Connexus Energy’s Pollinator-Friendly Solar Array to House Bolton Bees’ Apiar

Wednesday, May 3, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shari Wormwood
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Ramsey, Minn. (April 25, 2017) — Connexus Energy’s pollinator-friendly community solar garden is not only producing renewable energy, it is now producing honey. On April 24, 2017, Bolton Bees installed 15 beehives at Connexus Energy’s SolarWise garden in Ramsey, Minnesota and will be managing and expanding 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,” says Samantha Neral, Connexus Energy spokesperson. “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.”

A Minnesota nonprofit made the initial introduction between Bolton Bees and Connexus Energy. “Fresh Energy is excited to be involved in this innovative partnership,” says Fresh Energy’s Rob Davis. “Connexus Energy’s project is a shining example of what a solar site can and should be. Nationwide, many communities are interested in ensuring the productive use of farm and rural lands — Connexus Energy’s bird- and pollinator-friendly solar array shows that solar sites can be designed and managed in ways that have numerous agricultural and environmental benefits.” 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.

In order to establish an industry standard for honey produced on or adjacent to solar arrays, Bolton Bees has registered a Federal Trademark (Serial # 87406579) for Solar HoneyTM. Their intent is for the mark to be available to all honey producers, electric cooperatives, food companies, and solar businesses willing to agree to the production standard.

About Connexus Energy

Connexus Energy is the largest customer-owned utility in Minnesota providing electricity and related products and services to approximately 130,000 homes and businesses in portions of Anoka, Chisago, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Sherburne, and Washington counties. Additional information about Connexus Energy is available online at

About Bolton Bees

Bolton Bees is a husband and wife company. Chiara and Travis Bolton are queen breeders and sell Minnesota-hardy bees and location-specific honey from throughout Minnesota. The Bolton’s are non-migratory beekeepers and only sell honey that is produced from their hives. The honey is natural and raw, and each honey has a different color, taste, and texture – depending on the flowers in the area. For more information, visit

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