Some French bees have the wrong kind of sweet tooth, and beekeepers from a dozen apiaries in the Alsace region say their taste for M&M's from a nearby waste-processing plant means they are producing unsellable blue and green honey.
Bees from a dozen apiaries in eastern France have been producing honey in mysterious shades of blue and green – after feasting on M&M's at a nearby biogas plant processing waste from a chocolate factory.
Beekepers around the town of Ribeauvillé in the Alsace region, better known for its white wines, launched an investigation over worries that their honey was unsellable because of the strange colours being produced.
They discovered that instead of pollinating flowers in local fields, their bees had been tempted over to the biogas plant -- more than 4km away -- for sugary snacks.
The plant processes waste for confectionary giant Mars, which makes M&M's, bite-sized chocolates covered in bright blue, green, yellow, red and brown sugar-based shells.
Mars made no comment when contacted by reporters, although Agrivalor, which runs the biogas site, said it was trying to address the problem.
The plant’s managers said they had cleaned their containers and that in the future all incoming waste M&M's would be kept in a covered hall.
For honey producers, having bees addicted to junk food is a serious issue.
With bee populations in rapid decline around the world, the 2,400 beekeepers in Alsace, who struggle to produce some 1,000 tonnes of honey per year, cannot afford to offer honey that isn’t fit for market.
André Frieh, head of the local beekeepers’ association, said that while the blue and green produce tasted like honey, that was where the comparison ended.
“For me, it's not honey,” he told Reuters. “It's not sellable.”