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Sierra Daily

Oct 05, 2012

Melts In Your Mouth?

Honeybee  iStock_000014112575XSmall ajma_plScientists struggle to determine the role pesticides play in Colony Collapse Disorder, which has caused bee populations around the world to drop rapidly in recent years. If only the process was as easy as checking the color of honeybees’ honey.

In the Alsace region of France, bees “have been producing honey in mysterious shades of blue and green, alarming their keepers who now believe residue from containers of M&M’s candy processed at a nearby biogas plant is the cause.” When beekeepers around the town of Ribeauville investigated, they discovered that a biogas plant 2.5 miles away has been processing waste from a Mars candy plant, and that “instead of mining local wildflowers for nectar, bees have been sucking up colorful sugar at the plant.” The tainted honey is a problem “for about a dozen affected beekeepers already dealing with high bee mortality rates and dwindling honey supplies following a harsh winter,” according to Andre Frieh, president of the apiculturists’ union. “For me, it’s not honey,” Frieh told Reuters. “It’s not sellable.”

Agrivalor, the company operating the biogas plant, said it has “cleaned its containers and incoming waste would now be stored in a covered hall.” Alsace is home to some 2,400 beekeepers who tend 35,000 colonies that produce about 1,000 tons of honey annually. 

Image by iStock/ajma_pl.

HS_ReedMcManusReed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term. For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus.”

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