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Sacre bleu! French bees make colored honey … after visiting M&M plant

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Beekeepers in France were left perplexed when their bees started producing honey in unusual shades of blue and green, sparking a mystery that baffled many.

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However, the mystery surrounding the colorful honey has finally been unraveled, with the culprit believed to be residue from containers of M&M’s candy processed at a nearby biogas plant in northeastern France.

Confusion: Since August, beekeepers around French town Ribeauville in the Alsace region have seen bees returning to their hives carrying unidentified colourful substances that have turned their honey unnatural shades such as this honey which has turned green

Since August, beekeepers in the vicinity of Ribeauville, located in the Alsace region, observed their bees returning to their hives with peculiar substances of unidentified colors, resulting in their honey taking on unnatural hues.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, the beekeepers launched an investigation, leading them to discover that a biogas plant situated approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away had been treating waste from a Mars facility that produces M&M’s candies, known for their vibrant red, blue, green, yellow, and brown shells.

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M&M’s Mystery Unraveled: Beekeepers, intent on solving the puzzle, uncovered a biogas plant 2.5 miles away processing waste from a Mars factory producing M&M’s, pointing to residue from the candy containers as the likely cause.

The honey, rendered unsellable due to its unusual appearance, poses a new challenge for approximately a dozen affected beekeepers who are already grappling with high bee mortality rates and dwindling honey yields following a harsh winter, as noted by Alain Frieh, president of the apiculturists’ union.

Honey headache: French apiarist Andre Frieh holds a beehive frame with coloured honeycomb which is creating unsellable honey, with dozens of beekeepers affected

Agrivalor, the company operating the biogas plant, acknowledged the issue upon being informed by the beekeepers and took steps to address it.

Philippe Meinrad, co-manager of Agrivalor, stated to Reuters, “We discovered the problem at the same time they did. We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it.” He added that the company had cleaned its containers and would now store incoming waste in a covered hall to prevent further contamination.

Mars operates a chocolate factory near Strasbourg, approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the affected apiaries.

Clean up: Agrivalor, the company operating the biogas plant, have cleaned its containers and incoming waste will be stored in a covered hall to address the problem which has turned honey (right) into strange colours (left)

The decline in bee populations has been a global concern in recent years, prompting the French government to ban Cruiser OSR, a widely used pesticide linked to high bee mortality rates.

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

Ribeauville, situated on a picturesque wine route southwest of Strasbourg, is renowned for its vineyards. However, in addition to winemakers, the region is home to approximately 2,400 beekeepers in Alsace who manage some 35,000 colonies and yield about 1,000 tonnes of honey per year, according to the regional chamber of agriculture.

Regarding the M&M’s-infused honey, union leader Frieh remarked that while it may taste like honey, the comparison ends there. “For me, it’s not honey. It’s not sellable.”

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

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