Hmmm?

Sacre bleu! Mystery of French bees making coloured honey is solved… after keepers find M&M waste plant nearby

  • Beekeepers  around the town of Ribeauville in the region of Alsace have seen bees returning  to their hives carrying unidentified colourful substances
  • Biogas  plant has been processing waste from a Mars plant producing M&M’s in bright  red, blue, green, yellow and brown shells

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:10:57 EST, 4  October 2012| UPDATED: 11:07 EST, 4 October 2012

Beekeepers in France were confused after  their bees produced honey in mysterious  shades of blue and green.

But now the mystery has been solved as its  now believed residue from containers of  M&M’s candy processed at a nearby biogas plant n  northeastern France is the  cause.

Since August, beekeepers around the town of  Ribeauville in the region of Alsace have seen bees returning to their hives  carrying unidentified colourful substances that have turned their honey  unnatural shades.

Confusion: Since August, beekeepers around the town of Ribeauville in the region of Alsace have seen bees returning to their hives carrying unidentified colourful substances that have turned their honey unnatural shadesConfusion: Since August, beekeepers around the town of  Ribeauville in the region of Alsace have seen bees returning to their hives  carrying unidentified colourful substances that have turned their honey  unnatural shades

Determined to solve the mystery the  beekeepers embarked on an investigation and discovered that a biogas plant 4 km  (2.5 miles) away  has been processing waste from a Mars plant producing  M&M’s,  bite-sized candies in bright red, blue, green, yellow and brown  shells.

Asked  about the issue, Mars had no immediate comment.

The unsellable honey is a new headache for  around a dozen affected beekeepers already dealing with high bee mortality rates  and dwindling honey supplies following a harsh winter, said Alain Frieh,  president of the apiculturists’ union.

Discovery: Beekeepers discovered that a biogas plant has been processing waste from a Mars plant producing M&M's, bite-sized candies in bright shells
Discovery: Beekeepers discovered that a biogas plant has  been processing waste from a Mars plant producing M&M’s, bite-sized candies  in bright shells

Agrivalor, the company operating the biogas  plant, said it had tried to address the problem after being notified of it by  the beekeepers.

‘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, told Reuters.

He said the company had cleaned its  containers and incoming waste would now be stored in a covered  hall.

Mars operates a chocolate factory near  Strasbourg, around 100 km (62 miles) away from the affected  apiaries.

Bee numbers have been rapidly declining  around the world in the last few years and the French government has banned a  widely used pesticide, Cruiser OSR, that one study has linked to high mortality  rates.

France is one of the largest producers of  honey within the European Union, producing some 18,330 tonnes annually,  according to a recent audit conducted for national farm agency  FranceAgriMer.

Falling: Bee numbers have been rapidly declining around the world in the last few years Falling: Bee numbers have been rapidly declining around  the world in the last few years

Ribeauville, situated on a scenic wine route  southwest of Strasbourg, is best known for its vineyards.

But living aside winemakers are about 2,400  beekeepers in Alsace who tend some 35,000 colonies and produce about 1,000  tonnes of honey per year, according to the region’s chamber of  agriculture.

As for the M&M’s-infused honey, union  head Frieh said it might taste like honey, but there the comparison  stopped.

‘For me, it’s not honey. It’s not  sellable.’

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