Candy-Coloured Honey Not So Sweet for French Beekeepers

What would you do if your bees starting making blue and green honey? For some beekeepers in France, the answer is – swallow a bitter financial loss.

We know that the flavour and consistency of honey will depend to a large extent on what forage plants our bees have been working, and some of us will be familiar with the challenge of trying to sell a dark-coloured strong-flavoured buckwheat honey to customers raised on pale mild white clover honey in the mass market… but that’s nothing compared to the challenge facing some French beekeepers this season, according to a recent Reuters news story.

When their bees started to fill the combs with strange blue and green honey in August, beekeepers near the town of Ribeauville, in the Alsace region of France, did some digging. They discovered a biogas plant within bee forage range has been processing waste from a Mars candy factory that makes the popular multi-hued M&M candies. As soon as the plant management was alerted that the sweet waste was attracting honey bees, they took steps to clean out waste containers and keep incoming material under cover – but meanwhile the beekeepers of the area are stuck with a tainted harvest.

The news story doesn’t tell us whether the candy-coloured honey has been tested for food safety, but it seems doubtful whether the blue and green harvest could find a market even if it were approved for human consumption. And the long-term effect on the bees of ingesting the food dyes? Also unknown.

Read more:
Bees in France produce blue and green honey; beekeepers blame M&Ms. Bees have a taste for M&M’s candy, beekeepers discover by Patrick Genthon (Reuters) and Photos: M&M’s turn bees’ honey blue?, 5 October 2012.

Photo by Bribri2B (fichier personnel) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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