German Airport To Use Bees To Monitor Air Quality

In April, we posted a story about how a UK Supermarket was installing eight ‘bee hotels’ on land around its new eco-store location in Gloucestershire. Sainsbury’s beekeeping efforts are aimed at helping to improve crop pollination in the area, one of Britain’s main fruit and vegatable growing regions. In another example of Europeans harnessing “bee power,” the Düsseldorf International Airport and seven other airports in Germany will use bees for help in monitoring local air quality.

By regularly testing the honey of hives placed on airport premises, researchers are able to identify what toxins are in the air and being captured by the flora and fauna. The first round of this year’s honey was tested earlier this month and showed that toxins were well below official limits. The honey was bottled and given away.

Local officials haven’t thrown away more modern techniques but find the bees an accurate and useful supplementary testing tool.

Apparently, the test results from the honey provide the public a more tangible way of understanding the relative health of the local environment and ecosystem. If the bees are thriving, and the honey is good to eat, people don’t need to see complicated read-outs of computer-generated air quality reports. According to Jaymi Heimbuch, in TreeHugger, “there is nothing like seeing healthy insects and food to know that pollution is low.”

As Heimbuch suggest, “if they prove to be accurate monitors of pollution, that could be a great push for getting more rooftop hives from major cities to small towns. Tiny, energy efficient sensors placed all over urban landscapes are certainly helpful, but bees serve more than just one purpose.”

[Sources: TreeHugger, NY Times]

  • Tags: Green Initiatives, Places, Simple Change
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