There Are Red Bees in Red Hook

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Photo: iStockphoto

For the life of Cerise Mayo, a beekeeper with hives in Red Hook and on Governor's Island, she could not figure out why her bees were returning home to their honeycombs colored red. Or why, when they began producing honey, the sweet stuff itself was also scarlet-tinted. Was it a bee disease? Some obscure hipster air pollution? Were they buzzing on Robitussin like all the cool kids back behind Steve's Authentic?

A brief investigation turned up the most likely suspect: Dell’s Maraschino Cherries Company on Dikeman Street in Red Hook. Apparently, the bees were flying over there and engorging themselves on the sugary, red syrup that's used to make the neon cherries that adorn so many trendy Brooklyn beverages these days. Then they'd return home to rest and make honey. "When the sun is a bit down, they glow red in the evenings," said amateur beekeeper David Selig, who was definitely not stoned at the time. "They were slightly fluorescent. And it was beautiful."

Unfortunately, beautiful or not, the red honey they produced was loaded with Red Dye No. 40 and also tasted metallic and gross. Perhaps unsurprisingly, what works so well in a Manhattan does not work in nature.

The Mystery of the Red Bees of Red Hook [NYT]
Related: The Everything Guide to Urban Honey [NYM]