Syrup Junkies

Red Bees Mystery
Is Solved in Brooklyn

Over the summer, beekeepers in Brooklyn noticed a scary, disturbing trend, one that wouldn’t look out of place in a nightmarish sci-fi novel: their bees were turning red. Worst, instead of honey, they began producing an overly sweet, metallic tasting red concoction. Keepers were at loss to explain the new phenomenon, but then again, their world is no stranger to weird occurrences.
A few years back, for example, bees started vanishing. As it does for at least a century, the U.S. food industry use them to pollinate crops all over the country. Beekeepers take them to faraway farms and they usually return on their own to their colonies.
Until they didn’t, and were presumed to have died somewhere along the way. The cumbersomely-named Colony Collapse Disorder astonished everyone and seriously threatened food production in North America.
Many possible causes were considered, including bad diet and radiation from cellphone towers, but scientists have zeroed in a more plausible combination of factors, such as viruses, bacteria and environmental issues. Now the industry is expected to recover, thank you very much.
But this new mystery was even more bizarre, and it apparently was confined to, you guessed, the Red Hook area. The small-scale and mostly not-for-profit community of Brooklyn keepers stood to lose years of well-crafted practices and high-quality honey production, absorbed by equally small local businesses and a loyal customer base.
Long story short: after a brief investigation, it turned out the bees were making, well, a beeline to a maraschino cherries factory in the area, and gorging in the high-fructose corn syrup used on their preparation. Even Red Dye No. 40 (no, not the proto-punk band), which is used in the maraschino cherry juice, was found in the bees’ inedible concoction.
Mystery solved, case closed, right? Not so fast. Apiarists may have a hard time weaning the bees off the stuff. Just like so many of their fellow working bees in the neighborhood, after getting used on their way home to stop by the friendly spot daily for a little dip, new fences and more screens may just not be enough to keep them out.
Who could’ve imagined that bees, such a symbol of organic lifestyle, so vital to food production, so highly intelligent, would fall prey to the same trappings of an easy and nauseating sweet fix we’re so used to indulge ourselves? Try the crackheads next door. And their bodies do change colors too.
Really, who said bees are supposed to fulfill the idealized vision we’ve assigned to them, an ideal so unattainable we ourselves can only achieve it when we are, well, high?
Red bees become translucent and glow in the early evenings. That’s beautiful, man. Remember the song? Birds do it, bees do it… Oh, that’s right, that has nothing to do with it…
Anyway, we feel for those beekeepers, we really do. But let’s not turn this into a “war on drugs.” Because, we all know what’s next: raids, deportations (most honeybees are immigrants, after all), TSA-scannings, another rally for tax cuts to the wealthy.
Just like the real thing, life imitates life. Perhaps there’s even potential for other businesses to be developed, grow and be nurtured by the bees’ new addiction. Medicinal syrup dispensaries for card-carrying red bees, anyone?

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