How do you like your honey? In northern France beekeepers can serve you up a jar in a variety of shades of blue and green.
They have not been dabbling in chemical additives, the coloured honey was a mystery to the beekeepers in the town of Ribeaubeville where over a one thousand tonnes are produced annually.
They mounted an investigation, looked closely at their production methods and of course tracked the activity of their bees.
“We looked at the hives found the phenomenon was growing, everything pointed to something in the environment,” explained Alain Frieh, President of the Union of Beekeepers of Ribeauville, Alsace
All the clues led to a nearby biogas factory to where swarms had been making regular visits and indulging in a liking for chocolate candy.
On this site waste from a Mars plant producing those bite sized colourful M&M’s is processed. The residue from the containers of the multi coloured sweet proved too tempting.
“We didn’t imagine they would come foraging for these food dyes. Now everything which might attract the bees is directly treated undercover,” said
Philippe Meinrad, Director of a Agrivalo, biogas plant.
The bees and their honey are a vital part of the economy in Alsace. One expert said although the coloured variety did taste like honey it didn’t sell. A temporary sting for the country which is one of the largest producers of honey in the EU.