Airbus is using bees to help analyze the environmental footprint of its operations at Finkenwerder Airport in Hamburg, Germany, by keeping them on-site and analyzing their honey, according to the company.
The bees collect pollen and nectar from plants across an approximately 12-square-kilometer area around the airport. The honey that is produced is then sent to an independent laboratory for analysis.
Data from the analysis provides information regarding the quality of surrounding soil, air and water. For example, any metal or chemical deposits in flowers from the surrounding areas would also be detected in the honey.
The project was launched five years ago, and so far test results show that pollution levels from Airbus facilities are lower than in the Hamburg city center, and the levels are no higher than in other areas.
The beehives are located in two places at Airbus’ Hamburg facilities. One is near the aircraft paint shop, and the other is close to the runway where newly-built jetliners carry out flight tests.
According to Airbus’ fulltime beekeeper Eberhard Schädlich, who was previously an electronics technician with the company, this year Airbus has tested three different parameters – wax, pollen and honey – and every result has shown that pollution levels are well under approved limits.
Airbus has made other sustainability efforts recently, including setting a target of recycling 95 percent of its carbon-fiber reinforced plastic manufacturing process wastes by 2020-2025. In addition, Airbus is becoming increasingly known for producing fuel-efficient jets.