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Close-up of honeycomb in different shades of orange.

One Idea, Four Queens and 200,000 Diligent Helpers

Sweet Results for a Local Sustainability Project

Wild flowers bloom, and the fruit of the blackberry hedge is still yellow on this early July morning. Some of its thorny twigs protrude into the narrow dirt path that veers from the trail along a nearby creek. Tree branches cast shadows in the morning sun, the birds are twittering away, and the bees are buzzing. They are embarking on their daily “business trips” to draw sweet nectar from flowers. In the process, they gather pollen.

What does this idyll of nature have to do with Freudenberg Sealing Technologies (FST)? It’s quite simple: There are beehives a short distance from Freudenberg headquarters in Weinheim, Germany. And they are a cooperation with the local beekeeper company “Bee different.”

Close-up of the two hives: Bees buzzing around the entrance.

“We were on the lookout for good ideas on how to breathe life into the concept of sustainability,” said Nicole Schneider, Vice President, Global Process Industry. “We gave the staff the go-ahead to actively propose ideas on the sustainability theme. They could be major projects, or even relatively small ones, to improve our everyday work lives. They were evaluated and examined for their feasibility.”

Sina Etter, Marketing Manager, Process Industry Germany, came up with the original idea of getting a bee sponsorship. “A friend of a friend in Saarland founded a firm that provides bee sponsorships to companies. I thought the concept was tremendous and looked around the Rhein-Neckar region for companies offering a similar concept. I ran into one called ‘Bee Different.’”

Sina Etter, Marketing Manager Process Industry Germany, kneels in front of the two beehives and holds the sponsorship certificate into the camera.

Sina Etter, Marketing Manager, Process Industry Germany

Since others shared her enthusiasm, the proposal was well received and quickly executed. Since June 2021, 100,000 bees, divided into two populations, have made their home in the natural setting behind the two buildings. With their equilateral saddle roofs, the roughly one-meter-high beehives add a kind of down-to-earth domesticity to the scene. In April 2022, two more beehives with another 100,000 inhabitants were added.

There are many good reasons for the initiative. Bees are endangered and their populations are at risk in many locations. This is not only worrisome from the standpoint of biodiversity and the conservation of species. Bees also contribute a significant share of the pollination of many crops. Their diligence also produces “sweet fruit”: Honey is a pure natural product, and many consider it a delicacy. “We use the honey as an exclusive gift for selected customers and guests,” Etter said.

Experienced beekeepers from “Bee Different” take care of all the details. They have already centrifuged the first 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of the versatile natural product – a rapeseed honey. At the start of the sponsorship, the bees had still not been moved to Weinheim. The second harvest, however, included already summer flower honey from the fields of Weinheim.

“The bees have settled in and are comfortable in their new environment,” said Etter, citing the beekeepers’ expert judgment. Nothing is standing in the way of still more sustainable activities. There are plans to create an even more sumptuous selection for the bees in its “front yard”: Schneider and Etter are planning a planting initiative in 2022 so the new “employees,” along with other insects, will have adequate sources of food.

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