A BEEKEEPER in North Yorkshire says an entire honey harvest has been contaminated after his bees feasted on mint fondant.

Bees at Yorkshire Beehives, in Riccall, are believed to have flown half-a-mile to eat the fondant from skips at a plant which recycles chocolate waste into animal feed.

As a result, the honey produced by the bees has an unusual fudge-like consistency and tastes of mint with a strange metallic aftertaste.

The bees are thought to have resorted to eating the confectionery due to unseasonably bad weather in the spring and summer which meant there were fewer flowering plants.

Paul Snowden, owner of Yorkshire Beehives, said he could have lost more than £1,000 of honey as a result of the contamination.

He said: “It’s the blasted aftertaste that spoils it.

“It has set really hard. The stuff I have put in jars has set rock hard.

“We have had a diabolical year. If you ask any beekeeper, they have had a chronic year.

“There will be a real shortage of English honey.

“The bees have been desperate for food. They go mad over fondant because obviously it’s high in sugar.

“They have brought it back to the hives and processed it. I’m not attributing blame to anyone, it’s just one of those things.”

The story echoes a case in France when apiaries in Alsace began producing honey in mysterious shades of blue and green.

Keepers later discovered the colours came from residue from containers of M&Ms processed at a nearby plant.

Mr Snowden – who has ten hives and about 600,000 bees in summer – said he was now considering moving his beehives from Riccall Grange to Escrick Park.