We place great importance in ensuring our work around the world supports local communities and helps to preserve biodiversity for future generations. Our team in France saw an opportunity to help tackle a major environmental issue – the significant decline in the bee population, in a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
CCD meant that 30% of bee colonies in France were disappearing each year. This put a huge strain on the industry, with 15,000 beekeepers having stopped working in a decade and many left struggling to afford the resource required to reconstitute their swarms every 4-6 weeks as needed.
Our team in France realised that our solar PV plants in France offered unique advantages to beekeepers: a secure area which protects against theft or vandalism. We formed a partnership with a French association named “Un toit pour les abeilles” – ‘a roof for bees’ – which helps beekeepers to live properly and be able to maintain their hives. We have spent a year helping to support 10 beehives per site across four PV plants, to tackle the worldwide decline in the bee population and support local beekeepers. This year, the initiative has expanded to a further 30 hives.
As well as hosting beehives within our plants, the arrangement includes an agreed fixed price on honey and direct financial support so beekeepers can focus on the wellbeing of the bees. We also provide an annual payment to Un toit pour les abeilles to help reconstitute swarms as well as support beekeepers with additional costs.
The beehives were initially installed in St Martin Lalande, Istres and Les Mées PV plants. Now, an additional 30 beehives are being supported across our plants at Cabasse, Uglas, Elecsol Provence, Chateau-neuf-val-saint-Donat and Revest-du-Bion. At Châteauneuf-Val-Saint-Donat, due to the poor vegetation, Sonnedix has gone further in our support by adding appropriate plants along the fence of the PV plant to help the bees.
The delicious honey produced so far has been shared with local stakeholders, including the local mayor and landowner, and with Sonnedix teams around the world.