Solar honey: the magical ingredient that moves life in Carmona

Honey, "pestiño" desserts, bread and some of the most singular labels. With Odile Rodríguez de la Fuente, biologist and daughter of the renowned communicator, we are on our way to discover what these four things have in common. A clue: bees have a lot to do with it.

There is a new liquid gold. It is called 'solar' honey and it can be found in Carmona, a wonderful town in Seville. Almost two and a half million bees live alongside sheep and aromatic plants in the middle of a photovoltaic plant, thanks to a pioneering Endesa project in Spain that supports beekeeping and contributes to the sustainable development of the local community.

If the bees disappear, so does humanity. These insects, in addition to making the residents of this Andalusian town very happy, also have an important task assigned by nature: pollination. A fundamental process for the survival of ecosystems, essential for the production and reproduction of many wild crops and plants.

In this case, this process is developed in a very special place, the photovoltaic plants of Los Naranjos and Las Corchas, capable of generating clean energy since 2020. Responsible for these renewable facilities and aware of the importance of bees for our planet, Endesa launched what we call the 'solar' apiary.

When Juan Ignacio[APP1]  López, beekeeper at Loramiel, learned of the project's existence, he did not hesitate to present his candidacy. "Our mission is to publicise the benefits of bees and this idea was perfect for us, so we went for it and they chose us", says the beekeeper.

Odile Rodríguez with the beekeepers of the solar apiary in Carmona.
Odile Rodríguez with the beekeepers of the solar apiary in Carmona.

Now, Juan Ignacio's traditional hives have been joined by another 30 with the latest innovative features thanks to start-ups such as Smartbee and Protofy, which have implemented technology to help the beekeeper and make his business more efficient. "The smart hives that Endesa has provided [APP1] us with are hives with the latest technology: remote opening, temperature controls, humidity sensors, built-in cameras, bee entrance and exit monitoring ... all controlled from a mobile application", explains the beekeeper. All this makes it possible to obtain the so-called 'solar' honey, Carmona's new flagship product.

“The smart hives that Endesa has provided us with are hives with the latest technology”.

– Juan Ignacio, beekeeper at Loramiel

A sustainable value chain

However, this is just the beginning. Bees in the hive and local honey-buyers form part of a sustainable chain capable of transforming people's lives.

Another of the protagonists of this story is the Santa Clara Convent in Carmona, where for over forty years they have been making typical sweets. Sister Consolata Mueni Makau confesses that they have now begun using a magical ingredient: "we make some very tasty "pestiño" sweets with honey, and this year we have the privilege of using the 'solar' honey made here in Carmona". In addition, the nun explains that it is possible to buy these sweets in the museum or via the traditional convent turntable.

Odile Rodríguez with Sister Consolata Mueni Makau, a nun from the Monastery of Santa Clara.
Odile Rodríguez junto a Sor Consolata Mueni Makau, monja del Monasterio de Santa Clara.
Tortas de Carmona made by the nuns of the Monastery of Santa Clara.
Tortas de Carmona elaboradas por las monjas del Monasterio de Santa Clara.

But this special honey is not only an ingredient in delicious sweets, it is also serving as a breadmaking additive. This is the claim of Juan José García, baker at García Martín, whose establishment holds a "Ruta del Buen Pan" star, as one of the best bakeries in Spain.

"We work with ancestral processes, with sour dough, doing courses, gaining an insight into the latest breadmaking methods, along with the things we already had handed down to us from our ancestors", explains Juan José.

When they heard about our project, what attracted them the most was to know that it was an ecological 'solar' honey. "We believe in this project and we like the idea of putting honey into our bread. It is a top-quality raw material that serves as an additive", he concludes. 

“We believe in this project and we like the idea of putting honey into our bread”.

– Juan José García, baker at García Martín.

Odile Rodríguez junto a Juan José García, panadero de García Martín.
Odile Rodríguez junto a Juan José García, panadero de García Martín.
Juan José García, baker of García Martín, making bread.
Juan José García, baker of García Martín, making bread.

Undoubtedly, the solar apiary is much more than just hives. It has managed to become a space for synergy with local commerce, inclusive and with a strong commitment to development and the environment. Juan Manual Ávila, mayor of Carmona, says that this project has been a very special feature of the town's occupational workshop. The Association of People with Disabilities in Carmona has designed the labels that go on the honey jar. "It has been a wonderful experience and it made them feel very important". 

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