TPSolar helps the wild bee
Wild bees are an essential part of biodiversity and overall ecological status. That’s why they commit to helping the wild bee. TPSolar does not only commit by partnering up with Nederland Zoemt (the overarching action platform for wild bees) but also by adjusting the solar parks with specific measures.
Experts of the Wageningen University & Research (WUR) have already advised TPSolar with the construction of their first solar park in Uden about how we can contribute to the native pollinators and the biodiversity overall. Since then, the creation of habitats for in particular wild bees became a standard part of our solar parks.
One of the most important components of such habitat is that apart from the varied food supply, there also needs to be enough opportunities for the bees to take shelter and reproduce. Since every bee species has its own demands, it is important to have enough variety. Several ways this is done is with loam-hills, dead hedges, thicket, and bee hotels. Commercially available, big bee hotels are mostly located at public places in parks or flower meadows and have a public function. Much consideration was given to the design, completion and vandalism-resistance property. However, the bee hotels of TPSolar are located within a closed environment and are generally out of sight. Because of this, the bee hotels need to be purely functional.
TPSolar has partnered up with the company Woodmill from Mill, who will produce, fill and place the bee hotels. Woodmill is a diverse woodworking company, where both regular employment and people with a disadvantage on the labour market work. They create many products for, for example, the furniture- and transformer industry, in the Netherlands and elsewhere.
Woodmill currently works on the production of the first block of 40 bee hotels. In this process, they use high-quality materials. For example, they use Western Red Cedar for almost all the wood. This is FSC-approved hardwood which can be placed outside in untreated condition and last very long.
Woodmill uses advanced machines during the production process. Components are cut and then processed by a CNC-machine, which makes the final installation much easier. This machine also engraves the logos of both TPSolar and Woodmill in the sides of the bee hotels. Finally, the individual components are interlocked and secured with screws, and all that remains is the placing of the filling. The filling of the hotels consists of three different ‘ingredients’, namely: a bundle of reed, thick chunks of wood with drilled holes in different sizes, and a special nest box. The first 40 bee hotels will be placed this spring in TPSolar’s solar parks in Uden, Dordrecht, and Lochem.
Prototype: a successful test
Before the production of the 40 bee hotels, TPSolar and Woodmill first gained experience with a prototype. During the construction of this prototype, they stumbled upon a few matters that have been adjusted in the final design. Furthermore, there were different types of foundation that could be used. The prototype of the bee hotel was placed in solar park Uden a few months ago and is still firmly standing, even after the intense storms of the past weeks. It passed the test!
TPSolar is also working with the sister company of Woodmill, BlueView, in the meantime. BlueView is a commercial production company with a wide range of work. They also employ people with a disadvantage in the labour market. They are very motivated and deliver high-quality work as a team, ranging from relatively simple to very complex work. TPSolar and their ecologist have developed a passage for small fauna, particularly suitable for passages in chain-link fencing. This passage is currently developed together with Blueview into a prototype. These passages for fauna will be produced in series by them from mid-2020.