Bee colony
Sustainability 24.09.2021 3 Min.
BMW Group offers bees a home.

Five BMW Group sites in Munich alone are offering beehives a home. The idea was put forward by our staff and helps us make an important contribution towards more biodiversity.

In addition to its ambitious sustainability targets, the BMW Group and its staff also engage in lots of smaller-scale initiatives to protect the environment and biodiversity. One particularly “animal-friendly” project includes the various bee colonies that live on and around BMW Group sites. Whether it’s in Munich, Leipzig, Regensburg, Berlin or Dingolfing, various bee species and colonies have found a new home at BMW Group sites all around Germany. What do these sites have in common? The complete commitment of their staff to look after the endangered insects.

“We all want to do something good for the bees,” says amateur beekeeper Markus Huber, who, until recently, was responsible for several beehives on the roof of the BMW Group Research and Innovation Center (FIZ) in Munich. “Cities often offer bees better living conditions than the surrounding area when it comes to temperature or the amount of flowering plants available. When I presented my idea to those responsible at the BMW Group, they made everything possible for me to be able to set up the hives on the roof of the FIZ and to take care of them.” 

Raising awareness.

While Huber claims that his commitment to the bees was just a small contribution towards boosting biodiversity and preventing bee die-off, the initiative has had a big impact on other colleagues, while increasing people’s awareness of the importance of these essential creatures. More than 100 employees have already visited his beehives and obtained important insights into the daily lives of these fascinating insects.

“When you work with bees, you see nature in a completely different light,” says Manfred Bortenschlager of BMW Motorrad. He keeps five colonies, or more than 500,000 bees, which he has cultivated over the past three years on a fenced-off area of grassland belonging to the BMW Group. His honey harvest is impressive, amounting to around 40 kilos of the best regional, natural honey every year. It could be much more than this but he leaves the majority of this sticky sweet liquid for the bees as their food reserve for the winter. The rest is sold to honey lovers and BMW employees.

Fast organisation for happy bees.

Because this important commitment has gone down so well with everyone involved over the years, the BMW Group supports any amateur beekeeper who wants to access the company’s roofs, meadows and grassland in their own free time to make a clear contribution to protect bees. “If someone is interested and the conditions are right, the BMW Group will help its staff find the right location,” says Gerlinde Luginger, who works in environmental protection at the FIZ in Munich.

In concrete terms, this means providing locations such as greened roofs and grassland to the staff and ensuring around-the-clock access. “This is also a small but important part of our sustainability activities,” says Gerlinde Luginger, before adding: “Every single initiative makes a difference.” 

Like a small circular economy

For Christian Fordermair, who works for BMW Group at its main factory 1.1 in Munich, beekeeping is also a question of personal commitment, despite the immense amount of work involved. His bees on the roof of building 33 have been happily thriving in the centre of the city for four years now and are usually well looked-after by him at the weekends. “I often look in on them on the roof during my lunch break – after all, I can access it day and night,” says Christian Fordermair, adding: “Believe it or not, my bees on the BMW Group roof produce more honey than the hives I have in the countryside.” Just like all of his colleagues, Christian Fordermair also leaves the majority of his annual honey harvest of nearly 60 kilos in the hives as their food reserve for the winter, thus demonstrating a slightly different type of sustainable circular economy: “It’s my contribution towards helping the environment. After all, we all need to protect the bees.”

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