Red honey, instead of merely reddish-tinged honey, is very unusual, which is why the candy-cane effluent issue in Utah raised flags. The Utah case might have even been considered unique, were it not for a similar incident in New York a few years earlier, in 2010.
And New Yorkers have to be edgier.
In this case, bees in Brooklyn began to make red honey, just as the Utah bees would, and again the coloration was traced to a red food dye that was an effluent of a food manufacturer. The differences were that on this earlier instance, the food was maraschino cherries; and that not only the honey was turning red, but the bees were as well.
It didn’t take long for local beekeepers to realize something was wrong. Despite the existence of a comic book hero called the Red Bee, under normal circumstances only a small segment of some honeybee species is red; finding the entire bee a shade of bright red is a sign of a serious issue.
Unlike in Utah, the effluent from the factory wasn’t leaving in what one would call a legal fashion. The authorities had already been suspicious of the company, Dell’s Maraschino Cherries, believing them to be guilty of illegally dumping industrial waste – in this case, cherry syrup byproducts. The sudden color change of local bees seemed to prove their case, and an investigation was begun.
The wheels of justice turn slowly, however, and it was five years before local law enforcement was finally able to serve a search warrant to hunt for the source of the dye. The business’ owner watched as the authorities went looking through his plant… then quietly stepped inside a room and shot himself to death.
A little illegal dumping of non-toxic chemicals might seem like a minor infraction, something not worth a life. What likely prompted his choice was what he had in the basement, which the inspectors were certain to find: one of the largest cannabis farming projects in New York. Even if the judge had decided to be kind to him regarding the drug production, the operation was found to be generating millions of dollars per year, none of which had been taxed.
Oh, and the Brooklyn area where all of this – the bee and honey color change and the huge illicit drug manufacturing setup – existed? A fairly upscale location named… Red Hook.
Question of the night: Maraschino cherries… yea or nay?