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Please Do Not Disturb

It takes around 6,700 km to fly from Leipzig to New York on an A330. The EAT operates the route from the Saxon trade fair city to the Big Apple for DHL Express almost every night. What our planes can do in less than eight hours is almost a lifetime’s work for other flyers?

Beekeepers Markus Schubert and Kathrin Ganzer from the DHL hub in Leipzig welcome the new colleagues.

We’re talking about honey bees: They are not only good for the nature, they are also a welcome variety for more than 6000 employees of the Express hub. Although these bees do not deliver parcels, they are busily collecting honey on the almost 8,000 km which they cover in the course of their lives. And that also has benefits for the palate, explains Markus Schubert, the beekeeper in charge of the project: “The bees come back loaded with lots of pollen.”

The fact that the worldwide largest DHL Express hub has now more bees than employees becomes clear when you take a closer look at the 11000 m2 bee meadow. Together with the DHL “Queen Bee” Kathrin Ganzer, beekeeper Schubert has settled 100,000 new colleagues.

That was not so easy, because first of all the site had to be ploughed, than planted and finally populated. This took some time. The reason for this were the cold temperatures in April and May. Everything is ready now, just before summer, in the brightest sunshine and the DHL bees were able to take off.

Not far from our hub, a small oasis was created for the bees.

They can spend the night in the immediate vicinity of Airbus, Boing and Co just like the DHL crew for the New York plane. But “Can the bee’s sleep, too?” the layman asks himself. When the hub starts running and more than 60 planes arrive into Leipzig every night, it’s of course quite busy. Exciting, but good for … honey? The hubs beekeeper reassures: bees sleep serval times a day before they start their up to ten working assignments per day. Being tired can actually lead to a lack of attention and faulty communication with each other, just like in the real world of flying.

Talking about communication? That’s right, they communicate by bee dance, it’s like the honey bees ILS (Instrument Landing System). There are two forms, to draw each other's attention to food sources -the tail dance and the round dance. At the hub, the bees have a varied board-menu: red clover, rosemary, and rapeseed and summer lilac. If something goes wrong at the dance, there's nothing to eat and no honey for the hub and the neighborhood. For this reason, it is important to not disturb the bees. After harvesting and testing in the laboratory, you can buy a real jar of DHL honey in the souvenir shop.  - Christian Adam