Meet the investment company making a home for bees

If you were to visit one of Low Carbon’s solar parks, dotted across Suffolk, Devon and Cornwall, you might be in for a buzzing surprise.

Alice Pritchard 21 October 2018

http://bit.ly/2J9Qhn2

Alongside ranks of solar panels that line the hills above the Jurassic Coast, green energy investment firm, Low Carbon, has installed clusters of beehives, now host to a thriving two million bees in total across five parks.

Having spent £250 million on renewable energy technology, Low Carbon has also partnered with Plan Bee, in a wildly successful and popular campaign that uses honey to help spread the word about sustainability and renewable energy. 

The presence of the bees is regarded as a valued-tenet of the company’s commitment to the environment and a reminder to solar park visitors of the connection between renewable energy, climate change and biodiversity loss.

Why are bees so important for a sustainable future?

As we are all aware, British bee numbers have been in sharp decline for some time. Climate change has unnaturally shifted seasonal patterns that bees and other wildlife have been accustomed to for thousands of years.

But the distinctive black and yellow insects are essential to our future. Bees are some of the best pollinators in the world, and pollination is an essential part of the growth process for three quarters of the world’s food supply.

To put it another way, bees pollinate around 75 of the roughly 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world’s population.

Low Carbon 2 1

Low Carbon's hives are home to two million bees

Low Carbon believes that society has a responsibility to look after bees and make sure that hives can survive, that is why they are looking to harness new technology to help them.  

Building on the success of the first 25 hives installed in 2015, Low Carbon will be installing remote beehive monitoring systems developed by Arnia.

The monitoring systems will enable the Low Carbon team to track and monitor beehive parameters such as brood temperature, humidity, hive weight and weather conditions at the touch of a button, so that they can be better placed to help the bee population to adapt and survive.

Are robot bees a real solution?

This is not the only technological approach to overcome the ‘bee problem’. Earlier this month the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology claimed to have successfully demonstrated remote-controlled “drone bees”. 

Far from an apocalyptic sci-fi tale in which robot bees are being created to take over, the innovation is a necessity for a country in which bees are partially responsible for the pollination of 80% of the edible crops.

This is far from a fool proof solution. The robotic insects (which have a 33cm wingspan) can only fly for six minutes, far below what would be required. 

Last year, David Goulson, a Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex and founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, wrote that if the cost for each drone was merely a penny (which is highly unlikely) in the event of a bee apocalypse, it would run to £32 billion to replace every honey bee in the world.

Low Carbon prefers to take a different approach, marrying the technological with the ecological. Far better and easier, is that we look after the bees we have now, help them thrive and tackle the causes of their decline; climate change and a loss of habitat.  

For more information about Low Carbon and its commitment to bees click here.

Alice Pritchard 21 October 2018

http://bit.ly/2J9Qhn2

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