Honeybee Air Monitoring Comes to Berlin's New Airport

Honeybees concentrate air pollution in their pollen collection activities, making their honey a useful monitor for air quality photo

the azure world/CC

Bees may well be a canary in the coal mine when it comes to environmental quality. But as scientists still struggle to determine the causes of colony collapse, airports in Germany have been using honeybees to evaluate the impact of air traffic on neighboring air quality. A practice that the Hamburg airport claims to have started has spread to airports throughout Germany. Now, Berlin's new Schoenefeld airport, aka BBI (Berlin-Brandenburg International), joins in this strange science-meets-marketing endeavor.Carnica honeybees from beekeeper Dirk Trepke's apiary will serve as the worker-bees for the project, according to the Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung. The project is coordinated by Jochen Heimberg, the leader of the Environmental Department for the Berlin Airports.

Honey will be analyzed annually for heavy metals and polycyclical aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The airport promises to make the results transparent to the public, even if the analysis shows contamination being picked up by the bees. However, they have good reason to believe the results will favor the airport: honey is sold at other airports because the testing has proven the sweet air quality detector exceeds the standards for food quality.

More on Bees:
Honeybees Police Airport Air Quality
Vanishing of the Bees Directors' Top 5 Picks in the Fight to Save the Bee
How to Keep Bees in New York City (Video)
An Inside Look at "Tough Love" Beekeeping & a Honey Harvest (Video)
Help Bees. Get a Tattoo?!

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