Beehives are placed near an airport runway in Hamburg to measure pollution levels on behalf of aircraft manufacturing giant Airbus. Elly Park reports.
A patch of land around Hamburg airport is home to thousands of unlikely residents: bees. The hives are tended by technician-turned-beekeeper, Eberhard Schaedlich - who on behalf of aviation giant Airbus collects honey to measure pollution levels around the airport. Flying over an area of 12 square kilometres, the bees' honey provide valuable information about the presence of metal and chemical deposits in the surrounding area. And Schaedlich says the five-year-old project has been a success. SOUNDBITE: Airbus Beekeeper, Eberhard Schaedlich, saying (German) "We have tested three different parameters this year: wax, pollen and honey, and this year we are doing it for the first time from two different beehive locations. And it is very exciting and luckily, I say luckily, every single result shows that levels are well under approved limits for edible products." And that is good news as the bees here produce 160 kilograms, or 600 jars, of honey each year. It's not sold commercially but given away as gifts to clients and Airbus staff who are pleased with the results. SOUNDBITE: Head Of Environment At Airbus Hamburg, Volker Hase, saying (English) "I'm very proud. It's a part to help to improve our impact on our environment." The project is also welcome news amid rising global fears of a sharp decline in bee numbers, which could have a devastating effect on global food security, as bees are the main pollinators of the world's crop species.