Parts of northern France, where several bee colonies are situated, have been shrouded with mystery when the insects have been producing honey in various colors for months. Overwhelmed beekeepers were left in a puzzling situation when the bees began producing honey with a shade of BLUE.
Soon, they discovered the culprit of the problem… a biogas plant nearby that was producing M&M sweets. Leftovers were in containers that were within the reach of the bees. They returned to their hives carrying various colored substances and produced honey in unnatural hues. Beekeepers near Ribeauville, in Alsace, noticed them and were left baffled.
They found a factory 2 miles away which was processing waste from a nearby plant manufacturing M&M sweets in bright-colored candy shells. Investigating further, they realized that the various colored honey the bees were producing proved to be a real headache. According to Alain Frieh, president of the apiculturists’ union, the beekeepers deemed their colored honey “unsellable”.
In 2014, the story first hit the headlines. However, it was shared on various social media pages after the photos emerged on a science page on Twitter. The company operating the biogas plant, Agrivalor, claimed that they had addressed the problem when concerned beekeepers began contacting them.
“We discovered the problem at the same time they did. We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it,” Philippe Meinrad, co-manager of Agrivalor, said in an interview with Reuters. “The company cleaned its containers, and all future incoming waste was then stored in a covered hall.”
Another factory near Strasbourg, which manufactures Mars chocolate bars, was 60 miles away from the affected colonies at the time. The French government banned the use of pesticides when it was discovered that bee numbers were declining around the globe in the past few years.
France is one of the largest producers of honey in Europe. Annually, they can produce around 18,330 tonnes. A community located on a wine route southwest of Strasbourg, Ribeauville is widely known for its scenic vineyards.
2,400 beekeepers in Alsace live beside the neighboring wine district of France. They tend to around 35,000 colonies and produce about 1,000 tonnes of honey per year. As for the M&Ms-infused honey, Alain Frieh said, “For me, it’s not honey. It may have tasted like honey, but that was where the comparison stopped. It’s not sellable,” he said.
Images credits: © The SUN UK