Bees gather on a honeycomb in Vienna, July 11, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
Beekeepers in France have gotten a colorful surprise when collecting the honey from their beehives in northeastern France. In the town of Ribeauville, in the region of Alsace, beekeepers have noticed bees producing honey in shades of blue and green.
According to Reuters, the mysterious colored honey can be blamed on residue from containers of M&M's produced at a nearby biogas plant. Beekeepers have seen bees return to their hives with unidentified colorful substances since August.
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Hoping to find the cause of the unusually colored honey, beekeepers began on investigation that lead them to the biogas plan 2.5 miles away that was processing waste from an M&M producing plant.
Mars, the company that produces M&M's, did not comment on the issue, but Agrivalor, the biogas plant operator, told France's Le Monde that it would clean the containers, store all incoming waste in airtight containers and process them swiftly.
Philippe Meinrad, a spokesman for Agrivalor, told Reuters, "We discovered the problem at the same time they did. We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it."
The blue and green tinged honey is quickly becoming another headache for beekeepers, who have had to dealt with decreasing bee populations and diminished honey supplies, Alain Frieh, president of the apiculturists' union told Reuters.
Bee populations have seen a steady decline worldwide in the past couple of years and have prompted France, one the largest producers of honey in the EU, to ban a pesticide called Cruiser OSR. According to Reuters, the widely used pesticide has been linked to high mortality rates in some studies.
The affected region of Alsace, Reuters reported that about 2,400 beekeepers tend to 35,000 colonies and produce nearly 1,000 tonnes of honey a year. While the colored honey may still taste like honey, Frieh said it's unsellable. He told Reuters, "For me, it's not honey. It's not sellable."