French beekeepers may beg to differ about the proclamation of Mars Incorporated that “Chocolate is better in color.”
According to Reuters, beekeepers near the town of Ribeauville, in the Northeastern region of Alsace, have been reporting that their bees are producing blue-green honey since August. A biogas plant, which processes waste from an M&Ms factory, was traced as the root cause.
Agrivalor, which is some 2.5 miles away from the bees’ apiaries, is apparently where the bees are picking up vibrantly colored, sugary waste from the plant. The company said they would clean its containers and store waste in airtight containers to prevent bees from reaching it, a statement that appeared in the French newspaper Le Monde.
Philippe Meinrad, co-manager of Agrivalor, told Reuters, “We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it.”
One of the largest honey producers in the European Union is France, which generates 18,330 tons of honey per year. About 2,400 beekeepers manage 35,000 colonies, which produce about 1,000 tons of honey per year, and that’s just in Alsace alone. Reuters reported that France is also affected by the largely unexplained and unfortunate decrease in the world’s bee population in recent years.
The harsh winter of 2011–2012 may have affected bees’ ability to forage. It could be the reason the bees resorted to use the alternate sugar, spokesperson for the British Beekeeper’s Association, Gill Maclean, told the BBC.
Maclean told the BBC, “Bees are clever enough to know where the best sources of sugar are, if there are no others available.”
President of the the apiculturists’ union, Alain Frieh, explained to Reuters that the only similarity between regular honey and their bees’ M&M-tainted byproducts might be taste. Blue honey on store shelves won’t be available for consumers anytime soon.
However, “For me, it’s not honey. It’s not sellable,” Frieh told Reuters.