Beekeepers at Václav Havel Airport Prague. via Prague Airport

Sweet: Václav Havel Airport Prague wins gold medal for best Czech honey

Bees are kept at Václav Havel Airport to monitor the environment
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Václav Havel Airport Prague has been won praise for many areas of aviation and design, but it has also been getting awards for something quite out the ordinary: it’s honey.

The airport has won the Gold Medal in the Czech Honey competition for the sixth year for its flower honey. “The highly prized honey is the result of several years of work by the entire team of airport beekeepers and their exemplary professional beekeeping care.” Prague Airport, the company that operates Václav Havel Airport Prague, said in a press release.

The annual competition is held by the Beekeeping Research Institute (VÚV) in Dol, Central Bohemia, which gave the airport sample a 100% rating, the highest possible mark. In total, 360 samples took part in the competition.

The honey is evaluated in VÚV’s accredited laboratory in four criteria: physical and chemical properties, overall aesthetic impression of the product, mandatory data on the label, and correct labeling including additional data.

airport bees
Beehive at Václav Havel Airport Prague. via Prague Airport

Beekeeping started at Václav Havel Airport in November 2011, when Prague joined other international airports in monitoring the air quality around the airport by using bees as part of efforts to reduce the negative environmental impact of air transport.

Currently, the airport has seven bee colonies, which in the summer months number approximately 350,000 bees. Beekeepers this year gathered almost 80 kilograms of honey from their honeycombs.

However, bottling honey is not the main reason for bee breeding. “Thanks to the bees that travel a few kilometers around during their journey to pollinate flowering plants, we can obtain valuable data on possible environmental pollution in the surroundings by chemical analysis of honeycomb pollen,” Soňa Hykyšová, director of Environmental Protection of Prague Airport, said.

Samples of honeycomb pollen and honey are sent for analysis to an accredited laboratory at the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague (VŠCHT Praha), where residual analysis of the content of heavy metals and organic substances, or polyaromatic hydrocarbons, is carried out.

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“The analyses carried out in recent years confirm good air quality around the airport,” Hykyšová said, adding that in addition to biomonitoring of honeycomb pollen, its department has been monitoring fruit and agricultural crops for several years.

airport bees
Bee colony at Václav Havel Airport Prague. via Prague Airport

As biodiversity reduction, especially among insects, is becoming an important issue, Prague Airport is trying to support other insect species in addition to bees. In summer, insect hotels were installed on the airport grounds and other activities will follow as part of the new biodiversity support program, Prague Airpor stated.

The general public unfortunately cannot buy the honey. It is not intended for commercial sale due to low production and biomonitoring purposes, but it is used as a souvenir for Prague Airport partners.

It can also be regularly tasted by visitors to various events for the public, which are organized or attended by Prague Airport. Recently it was possible for residents of the surrounding municipalities to try it during the airport roadshow organized by Prague Airport.

Václav Havel Airport Prague opened April 5, 1937, as Prague Ruzyně Airport. Right after former president Václav Havel’s death on Dec. 18, 2011, an online petition asked the government to rename Prague Ruzyně Airport to Václav Havel International Airport. This name change took place Oct. 5, 2012, on what would have been Havel’s 76th birthday.

Prague–Ruzyně Airport began operations April 5, 1937. It won a design award at the Paris 1937 World’s Fair for the architecture of the original check-in building, which is now Terminal 4. Among other achievements, the airport stood in for Miami International Airport in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale.

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