316: Chiara and Travis Bolton on Solar Honey.

Stacking beekeeping businesses with alternative energy for everyone’s benefit.

Chiara and Travis are beekeepers in Minnesota.  In their business, Bolton Bees they sell Minnesota-Hardy bees adapted to survive Minnesota’s harsh northern climate and distinct location specific honey.

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They have been featured in National Geographic, Martha Stewart, Smithsonian Magazine, and Modern Farmer for their innovative partnerships with solar developers.  They formed a public benefit corporation called “The Solar Honey Company” and have trademarked the term. They are a mission-based company promoting the stacking of multiple benefits to farmland including clean solar energy, pollinator-friendly habitat, and local beekeeping.

In This Podcast:

Chiara and Travis Bolton are not just any regular beekeepers, they are also changemakers in that they have devised an innovative way to help several aspects of their local community in environmentally friendly and the area of sustainable energy.  They realized they could stack the functions of beekeeping with the land intensive areas of solar panels for mutual benefit and provide a product that was healthy, local, and in demand.  Then they decided to expand this concept to help others do the same thing and have set up a business just to help in this process.

Listen in and learn about:

  • How she started beekeeping in rural China
  • Starting with Travis and looking for bee friendly land
  • Working with solar panel companies
  • How the solar companies are intentionally preparing the land for honey
  • Stacking the functions of the land
  • The conversation that helped create this idea
  • The scorecard that grades if a property is pollinator friendly
  • Their site-specific honey that was ready to expand to solar site apiaries
  • The B-Corp that they set up and what a B-corp is
  • Mission based business
  • How they are expanding this concept beyond their own business
  • Finding honey that is local from a trusted source
  • Who plants the native, pollinator-friendly plants for the pollinators
  • Queen breeding – how and why they do this
  • Selling Minnesota hardy bees

As well as:

  • Their failure – Trying to start a new business while still maintaining their old careers and not setting a good work-life balance
  • Their success – The Solar Honey company!
  • Her drive – Working towards a greater good
  • His drive – Trying to be a better beekeeper
  • Their advice – Leave your dandelions and clover in your yard; engage with your local community

Bolton’s Book recommendations:            

Red Earth White Earth by Will Weaver

Canoes in Winter: Beneath the Surface by Bob Guelker

How to reach Boltons:        

Websites: boltonbees.com and solarhoney.com (to find Solar Honey)

Email: boltonbees@gmail.com


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