Tuesday, November 30, 2010
A young lady has been raising bees in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Keep that word, Red, in mind.
Since May, her bees have been returning to their hives looking quite different, with odd stripes of color where a mellow touch of amber usually showed through the membrane of their stomachs. What always was a honey color, suddenly became a brazen red. The honeycombs were also strangely red.
It was thought at first that the bees were hanging around some sumac, or an odd tree or two. But then a friend suggested (being funny) that maybe the bees were lounging around Dell's Maraschino Cherries Company over on Dikeman Street, in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
It seemed impossible to believe that the bees would travel a good distance, bypassing mother nature, to fill up on junk food. Hmm, sounds a bit familiar. We humans seem to favor overlooking the natural for artificial anything!
But bees, too? What's the buzz here?
An apiculturist found, through samples taken from the bees, that Red Dye # 40, was the same dye used in the maraschino cherries. And some folks came forth with the news that lots and lots of bees were hanging around Dell's.
It seems that bees will dip into any sweet liquid in their flight path. It's thought that the bees were slurping up the runoff at the factory. The question became if the bees would abandon the bright red, abundant sweetness, for some natural nectar. Perhaps putting a screen around the cherry factory might help to prevent the foragers from hanging around, which is proving to be a huge nuisance!
It remains to be seen if the best real nectar can be a match for this hot tamale red, excessively sweet, artificially enhanced treat. Because the yield from this last summer did indeed produce a honey, bright red, that was sort of metallic, and too sweet. The upside is, that in the evening, the bees glowed a lovely crimson.
Original source: New York Times, 11/30/10