Air traffic around Finkenwerder airfield at Airbus’ Hamburg, Germany plant has literally been buzzing as 360,000 bees contribute to the company’s efforts in protecting the environment.
Airbus positioned six beehives near the Finkenwerder runway this summer as part of the global Green Wave initiative. The 360,000 bees not only produced 160 kilos of honey, they also carried out a biological monitoring mission by allowing testing of the quality of air, water and soil.
As the bees collect nectar and pollen from flowers over an area of approximately 12 square kilometres around the airfield, they supply important data on the pollution of air, water and soil in the region. If harmful substances such as heavy metals, benzene or ethylene are contained in the flowers, these can be detected by analysing the honey. Evaluations to detect 30 pollutants typically produced by traffic showed that the actual levels measured were significantly lower than thresholds determined by the European Union.
While bees pollinate around 80 per cent of all fruit and vegetables, they have become a globally-endangered species. “Without them there would be no apples, no peaches and 86 per cent fewer flowering plants,” said Airbus beekeeper Eberhard Schädlich, who formerly was an industrial electronics technician at the Hamburg plant.