Living With Colored Honey

Honey derives its color and flavor from the nectar that the bees collect. For example, nectar from clover has a light golden color and the honey has a “clover” flavor. Nectar from tulip poplar is much darker and has a strong taste of “Tulip Poplar”. In times when nectar sources are too few, beekeepers may enhance the nutrition of their bee colony by feeding sugar solutions. Sugar solution does not add substantially to the color or flavor of the honey. These properties of honey are familiar to beekeepers.

Beekeepers in Ribeauville, France were shocked this summer when they opened their hives and found honey of brilliant green and blue, colors not typically found in nature. To investigate, the beekeepers followed the bees to their foraging site. They found that their bees were flying to a new type of plant, a factory that makes M&Ms candies. The bees were foraging on the sugary coating for the M&Ms, which contains dyes that give M&Ms their brilliant colors. The French, who maintain purity standards for their honey, have deemed the dye-contaminated honey, unsellable. The plant managers are taking measures to exclude the bees from the dye-containing sugar solutions.

French Beekeeper Displays Honey with “Unnatural” Colors
Photo: Vincent Kessler, Reuters

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Environment, Food, News, Sports. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Living With Colored Honey

  1. RCabrales says:

    I would love to try some of that unique honey. Truly amazing!

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