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Wax lips, or the discovery of red dye #40 among the bees
December 1, 2010 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Brooklyn bees eat maraschino cherries, make nasty red honey. (Here's a non-nytimes link to the same article)
posted by moonmilk (85 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
In a thousand years pigeons will evolve to subsist entirely on cigarette butts.
posted by The Whelk at 12:10 PM on December 1, 2010 [12 favorites]


I was reading this the other day and I thought, Would these bees taste good in an Old Fashioned?
posted by Splunge at 12:14 PM on December 1, 2010 [24 favorites]


Cerise Mayo expected better of her bees

Lol
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:16 PM on December 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


Waiter, there's a bee in my Manhattan.
posted by The Whelk at 12:16 PM on December 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


She found it particularly hard to believe that the bees would travel all the way from Governors Island to gorge themselves on junk food.

Bees. They're just like us!
posted by Go Banana at 12:17 PM on December 1, 2010 [20 favorites]


"All summer long, friends of Ms. Mayo were forever pointing out the funny coincidence that her first name means 'cherry' in French; as a slow-food advocate with the last name Mayo, she was already accustomed to such observations."
posted by moonmilk at 12:17 PM on December 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


This lady doesn't seem to understand much about bees. OH NOES WHY WOULD THEY FLY TO A SOURCE OF PURE SUGAR? Because they're bees, is why. They're not intending that honey for your refined locavore palate, ma'am.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:20 PM on December 1, 2010 [36 favorites]


Could be worse.

In pine forests they'll make honey out of the excrement of aphids.
posted by jamjam at 12:20 PM on December 1, 2010


"Rachel Maddow took some time on her Tuesday show [video] to set viewers straight about cocktail etiquette -- specifically, whether you should eat the garnishes, like olives, that are placed in your drink.

The impetus for Maddow's slightly stern lesson was the bizarre story of the bees in Brooklyn that turned red due to the dye in maraschino cherry vats. 'Moral of the story? Don't eat the garnish!' Maddow said, before taking viewers through some of the garnishes they were not allowed to consume.

Lemon twists? Just there to add some smell and flavor. 'It has a job to do, and that job is not to be eaten!' Maddow said, throwing the used twist over her shoulder.

Cocktail olives? Also a no-go, since they have 'conceivably been lying out festering in their own juices in a warm room all night, with fingers on them.'" *
posted by ericb at 12:20 PM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Cocktail olives? Also a no-go, since they have 'conceivably been lying out festering in their own juices in a warm room all night, with fingers on them.'

A life without risks is no life.
posted by The Whelk at 12:21 PM on December 1, 2010 [21 favorites]


I have often wondered if insects are attracted to artificial sweetners. Anyone know?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:23 PM on December 1, 2010


In pine forests they'll make honey out of the excrement of aphids.

I swear to god if you get me some bottles we'll make a killing at the farmer's market.

"Circle of Life Honey: 100% natural, 100% recycled. Support your local food chain today!"
posted by griphus at 12:24 PM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Look, Rachel, if you don't want your olives, I'll be happy to eat them.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:24 PM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Aphid excretion is really sweet. it's called Aphid Milk for a reason. Some ants herd aphids to new growth to get them nice and fat and then feed the sugar to their larva.

Nature! No excretion goes to waste.
posted by The Whelk at 12:25 PM on December 1, 2010


What's the point of getting fussy about HFCS when you're basically eating bee vomit?
posted by JoanArkham at 12:27 PM on December 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Cocktail olives? Also a no-go, since they have 'conceivably been lying out festering in their own juices in a warm room all night, with fingers on them.'" *

So enjoy your drink never mind the "festering olive" floater.
posted by nola at 12:27 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I can't eat the olives but it's cool for them to soak in my drink?
posted by Ad hominem at 12:27 PM on December 1, 2010 [9 favorites]


Are you sure you don't mean "MetaFilter: No excretion goes to waste."?
posted by hippybear at 12:27 PM on December 1, 2010


She better not try to tell me I can't eat the cherry in a Black Russian. BECAUSE I WILL ANYWAY.
posted by orange swan at 12:28 PM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Would most drinks that use olives also have enough alcohol in them to take care of any problems with germs?
posted by hippybear at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2010


I would buy a jar of Cerise Mayo's Nasty Red Honey for the name alone.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2010 [35 favorites]


As cool as I think beekeeping and urban gardening are (especially when their proponents prove themselves able to talk about other subjects as well, though this is rare), I don't like the idea of lots of people essentially turning their bees loose in the city and resigning to deal with all the unintentionally wacky results after the fact. In fact, I think leash laws may be in order.
posted by hermitosis at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, I wonder how a mead made with that honey would taste. I kinda wanna give it a go, just for the hell of it.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which reminds me: need to buy fresh martini olives.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:29 PM on December 1, 2010


In pine forests they'll make honey out of the excrement of aphids.

The excrement of aphids is also known as manna.

Lemon twists? Just there to add some smell and flavor. 'It has a job to do, and that job is not to be eaten!' Maddow said, throwing the used twist over her shoulder.

Absurd. Lemon twists are tasty. Eat the garnish! There are barbacks starving in India, you know.
posted by kenko at 12:31 PM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Cocktail olives? Also a no-go, since they have 'conceivably been lying out festering in their own juices in a warm room all night, with fingers on them.'"

Err, if an olive is sitting in the bottom of my drink, I'm effectively "eating" it, regardless.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:31 PM on December 1, 2010


Ah, but if they'd been real Marascas, the honey would have been divine. I was in Dean and Deluca a while back, getting some fancy things for a special event, and the clerk practically insisted I get a jar--"The best thing in the store," she told me.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:31 PM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nature! No excretion goes to waste.

Dirt is basically worm poop, so, you know, think about that the next time you're outside.
posted by kenko at 12:32 PM on December 1, 2010


I wonder how that honey would taste as mead...
posted by johnnybeggs at 12:32 PM on December 1, 2010


> Dirt is basically worm poop, so, you know, think about that the next time you're outside.

Right now, you're breathing the air that Hitler breathed.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:35 PM on December 1, 2010 [12 favorites]


lol this is the real "Horror at Red Hook" KILL ME KILL ME KILL ME

(Seriously though, why am I suddenly hearing about Red Hook all the time?)
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:40 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mock all you want, you know-it-alls. This could be the best way to get juggalos off Faygo and eating healthy.
posted by at by at 12:41 PM on December 1, 2010


I read the non-NYTimes link. Where did it say the honey was nasty? I would like to taste it.

My friend who keeps bees says that some people raise them off sugar-water, instead of flower nectar (so I always look for a label on the honey - wildflower, orange blossom, not just honey). I would like to try an experiment feeding them Coca-Cola and see how the honey tastes. This seems close to that.
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:45 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why doesn't she just put up a sign for her hive? DON'T BEE REDICULOUS

Sorry.
posted by bearwife at 12:47 PM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


> I read the non-NYTimes link. Where did it say the honey was nasty? I would like to taste it.


The NY Times link said it "tasted metallic and then overly sweet."
posted by Burhanistan at 12:48 PM on December 1, 2010


Where in the article does it say that the honey tasted nasty? I didn't see anything about the flavor changing, only the color. But then again, I am lazy, so maybe I just missed it.
posted by Eideteker at 12:48 PM on December 1, 2010


Cocktail olives? Also a no-go, since they have 'conceivably been lying out festering in their own juices in a warm room all night, with fingers on them.'"

Even worse, they were out all summer growing on a tree with bugs and dust on them!
posted by snofoam at 12:48 PM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Control-F, people. Control-F. Even better you can just hit / in Firefox to bring up the search bar.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:50 PM on December 1, 2010


(Seriously though, why am I suddenly hearing about Red Hook all the time?)

Same reason three years ago you heard about Long Island City all the time. It won the "artificial hype" sweepstakes, secretly held by the local branch of the Realtor's Assoc.
posted by griphus at 12:50 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interview with the most interesting man in the world. He orders a martini with olives and onions on the side, and eats them as snacks while enjoying his martini.
posted by fixedgear at 12:54 PM on December 1, 2010


I'm sorry, I just noticed that the Columbus Dispatch link doesn't reproduce the entire NY Times article - they must have edited it for space. If you don't want to register for the Times, you can search for "tasted metallic and then overly sweet" you can find some instances where people have cut 'n pasted the entire article into blogs and forums.
posted by moonmilk at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2010


I have often wondered if insects are attracted to artificial sweetners. Anyone know?

Define "artificial." A lot of sweeteners are sugar alcohols, or contain stuff like dextrose or maltodextrin. They work by triggering the same or similar taste bud cells as sugars. If insect cells are similar (and they likely are), then yeah, they might be.

A perhaps more interesting question would be, would bees starve to death attempting to eat artificial sweeteners to the exclusion of truly nutritious sources of sugar?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:58 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


He orders a martini with olives and onions on the side, and eats them as snacks while enjoying his martini.

If you ever go to a Russian bar, you'll see entire trays filled with stuff that usually goes inside drinks, along with pickles and so on, just sitting out for people to snack on. It's pretty standard.
posted by griphus at 1:01 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: garnished with bees.
posted by fight or flight at 1:01 PM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


griphus: standard Greek drinking practice, too.
posted by kenko at 1:04 PM on December 1, 2010


They work by triggering the same or similar taste bud cells as sugars.

Dextrose is a sugar.
posted by kenko at 1:05 PM on December 1, 2010


I thought this post was going to be about tongue-twisters. Or enunciation phrases.
posted by molecicco at 1:05 PM on December 1, 2010


The day I let Rachel Maddow tell me how to drink my cocktail is the day I'll let Glenn Beck tell me how to make chili.
posted by nickmark at 1:06 PM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


“Why would they go to the cherry factory,” she said, “when there’s a lot for them to forage right there on the farm?”

I like the idea that she'd gently admonish her bees for going for junk food and not eating their home grown farm stuff. Like they are naughty children who discovered the cookie jar.

Bee keepers are weird (and cool).
posted by quin at 1:07 PM on December 1, 2010


Before they eat the cherries they tie the stems into knots with their tongues.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:07 PM on December 1, 2010


I have often wondered if insects are attracted to artificial sweetners. Anyone know?

I dump out a lot of flat diet soda in our backyard to water plants, and I have never seen insects go for it. I am not a sweetener chemist nor an entymologist, but would assume that divergent sugar receptors in insects probably aren't similar enough to be activated by the same molecular mimics (sweeteners) that mammalian receptors are (Splenda might be an exception, since it's a modified sugar with hydroxyl groups replaced with chlorines).

Sugar alcohols are not actually artificial sweeteners -- they have plenty of calories on their own and are used in similar concentrations to achieve similar sweetness levels. Splenda, aspartame, etc. are much more potent and can be used at very low concentrations to mimic high concentrations of sugar (thus, diet soda doesn't have the same syrupy mouth feel as regular soda). Maltitol and the others used in "low carb" items still turn into blood glucose, albeit at a slower rate than regular sugars, which is why I cringe seeing diabetic seniors buy "Sugar Free Peanut Brittle" at Walgreens.
posted by benzenedream at 1:08 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Cerise" is the French word for "cherry." How's that for an aptonym!
posted by dbscissors at 1:10 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


“When the sun is a bit down, they glow red in the evenings,” he said. “They were slightly fluorescent. And it was beautiful.”

So does that mean fireflies are just bees that stumbled into a bag of wintergreen candy?
posted by nickmark at 1:11 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would most drinks that use olives also have enough alcohol in them to take care of any problems with germs?

I'm not sure; better have 2 drinks just to be safe.
posted by Hoopo at 1:13 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Why would they go to the cherry factory," she said, "when there's a lot for them to forage right there on the farm?"

Why forage at home when you can get the cherry for free?
posted by Kabanos at 1:13 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The NY Times link said it "tasted metallic and then overly sweet."

I just want to know how honey, which is basically sugar and water, can be "overly sweet."
posted by Stormfeather at 1:14 PM on December 1, 2010


Cocktail olives? Also a no-go, since they have 'conceivably been lying out festering in their own juices in a warm room all night, with fingers on them.'"

So have I, but my girlfriend doesn't seem to mind. Hooooooooo!
posted by FatherDagon at 1:15 PM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just want to know how honey, which is basically sugar and water, can be "overly sweet."

Not all honey tastes the same, as you probably know, and it doesn't all have the same subjective sweetness. In fact some honey tastes sweeter than an equivalent amount of actual pure sugar would taste.
posted by kenko at 1:19 PM on December 1, 2010


> I just want to know how honey, which is basically sugar and water, can be "overly sweet."

Honey has a variety of sugars blended together, along with pollen and many other compounds in smaller amounts that give it a much more varied taste than just dissolved white sugar.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:22 PM on December 1, 2010


When I first read the text of this FPP, I thought it was a mnemonic.
BBEMCMNRH. But what does it mean?
posted by rocket88 at 1:23 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Cerise" is the French word for "cherry." How's that for an aptonym!
You've read neither the article nor the comments, have you?
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:26 PM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


out of the excrement of aphids.

From now on, I say this instead of "from the mouths of babes."
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:30 PM on December 1, 2010 [7 favorites]


"Waiter, there's a bee in my Manhattan."

The backstroke!
posted by klangklangston at 1:33 PM on December 1, 2010


Rachel Maddow is a fucking idiot when it comes to drink garnishes. She's just flat dumbass wrong about olives and cherries.

First, there is a HUGE difference between generally not eaten garnishes made of citrus peel and olives/cherries/onions - citrus peel is added to a drink for the visual and the oils, not to munch on unless they are candied. Zest, however, is commonly used in food for flavor and eaten, so there's no rule against eating peels if that's your thing. If entire citrus chunks or wedges are included in a drink, then by all means feel free to squeeze them into the drink, suck on them, bite them at the end, etc.

Second, the cherries specifically - I have never, ever tasted a cherry that tasted "metallic" or otherwise deadly. Those bees are being raised in urban Brooklyn - I don't think you can automatically blame the cherry juice for the metallic taste. They will NOT dye you red. It should be noted that the bees were drinking of the solution in which the cherries are kept and concentrating lots of nasties along the way. Most people don't drink cherry juice and I've yet to have a drink using the juice that isn't an abomination. So, don't visit the sins of the juice on the cherries.

Third, and most disturbing to me is the admonition not to eat the olives in a martini. Rachel, what the hell bar do you go to that its olive sit there "festering?" Have you been to a cheesemonger that sells olives? Hell, have you been to a grocery store that sells them in bulk? They sit out all day long without issue because they are for the love of Christ OLIVES. The glories of MOTHER FUCKING BRINE, a tried and true preservative over the eons keeps them food safe for nearly for-fucking-EVER. Then, as others pointed out, they're dunked in (if done right) a very high proof drink that would render a goodamn cesspool soaked olive sterile. Rachel, be more afraid of kissing someone than an olive in your drink (unless the person you kiss has been drinking martini's like Dean Martin). The mouth is a nasty place, but a martini with olives, well, that's mother's milk right there.

And she ends by suggesting eating a Slim-Jim as a wonderful safe alternative? I need say nothing more.

Sorry for all the swearing, but I'm passionate about garnishes. That and ice use for drinks. Oh, and what you call a "Martini." Ok, I'm a lush.

Oh, and while at the cheese monger, buy some truffle honey to go with the stinky cheese - great stuff, so long as, I guess, the honey doesn't come from Brooklyn.
posted by Muddler at 1:35 PM on December 1, 2010 [15 favorites]


aint no outrage like righteous epicurean outrage cause epicurean outrage is hungry.
posted by The Whelk at 1:38 PM on December 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Bees prefer the cherries because it gives them a buzz.
posted by not_on_display at 1:40 PM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I Love Bees.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:42 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


> A life without risks is no life.

They'll cut my martini olive from my cold, dead stomach.
posted by jfuller at 1:46 PM on December 1, 2010


Red honey would be AWESOME for Chuck's Atomic Fireball Mead recipe:

Makes 5 gal.

15 lbs. light flavored honey
50 Atomic Fireballs (desolved in hot water over night)
1-2 box(s) Red Zinger Tea (for color)
Mead yeast (I used 1122 from Colin)
1 oz. Cinnamon oil added to secondary
Cayenne Pepper if you desire an extra kick. (sounds good to me)

You're welcome, y'all!
posted by spock at 1:50 PM on December 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, I wonder how a mead made with that honey would taste. I kinda wanna give it a go, just for the hell of it.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:29 PM on December 1 [+] [!]


Oops... great minds...
posted by johnnybeggs at 1:52 PM on December 1, 2010


As far as bees loving easy-to-get sugar, hasn't anyone ever seen them swarm trash cans full of discarded sodas and ice creams? One memorable visit to the local ren-faire included being hassled by bees attracted to my honey-glazed turkey leg.

Perhaps the beekeeper should put out some non-red-dye sweets in her garden and the bees will stay closer to home?
posted by emjaybee at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2010


emjaybee, I've often wondered what the soda-and-ice-cream honey made by urban bees tastes like.
posted by moonmilk at 2:01 PM on December 1, 2010


Would most drinks that use olives also have enough alcohol in them to take care of any problems with germs?

It's a natural selection thing. The weak germs are killed off, leaving only the industrial strength bad-asses. You do not want to mess with them.

BTW - moonmilk, that's one hell of a title. Hats off to you.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:19 PM on December 1, 2010


Cerise" is the French word for "cherry." How's that for an aptonym!

I think you mean "apitonym"!

sorry, it had to be done
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:44 PM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's pretty pitiful.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:48 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


One year the dairy farm behind our house moved the cows into a different pasture and the vacant field bloomed with goldenrod. My dad's bees made their honey entirely from the goldenrod pollen. It was one of the nastiest things I have ever eaten -- smelled (and tasted) like overripe gym socks. We had four 5-gallon jars of the stuff, and they weren't even fit to be given away.

Freakishly red maraschino cherry honey sounds positively delightful by comparison.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:46 PM on December 1, 2010


Muddler: You might be just talking about alcoholic drinks, but if not, try POM Cherry. Pretty tasty.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:05 PM on December 1, 2010


Apparently fluorescent red stripes are the "in" look in Brooklyn these days. At least among the bees.
posted by acb at 4:45 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


And don't forget rhododendron honey, which is lethal, but can be used as an intoxicant if the dose is small enough.
posted by Amanojaku at 5:20 PM on December 1, 2010


I am just checking in to appreciate the David Blair reference. That is all.
posted by phooky at 7:07 PM on December 1, 2010


Hey, you bastards, please keep going this is awesome. Also, it's my birthday and I'm drunk and this is the best post ever
posted by dubitable at 7:58 PM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


The more interesting part of this story is that the bees themselves were all dyed red too. But so far no media outlet has released any pictures of these alleged red bees.
posted by dgaicun at 9:12 PM on December 1, 2010


I like my women like I like my coffee . . . covered in fluorescent red bees.
posted by gamera at 11:04 PM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Right now, my bees are all enjoying nice big plastic bags of 2-1 sugar syrup, because I lost two hives last year because of robbing and an early frost, and they pretty much just store it as-is in honeycomb as clear, nearly flavorless syrup. They're not "slow food" afficianados or orthodox organic locavores, my girls. They fan out, look for sweet stuff, and if it passes muster, it's good.

It reminds me of the delight I get from reading angsty urbanites online complaints about how they were in Amish country and picked up this lovely quilt and it turned out to be made of polyester! How can the gentle, traditional Amish, who are so kind and quiet and peaceful, use an evil manmade fiber? I mean, we watched Witness and they just seemed so idyllic and here I am with a scarf that's made of dacron and viscose!

Of course, the Amish are thrifty, pragmatic Germans at heart, and they're puritanical about sex, music, and the Lord, but when it comes to whole cloth, they'll use what's prettiest, cheapest, and most durable, so the cartoon of unspoiled traditional life goes out the window.

We take up traditional arts, crafts, and trades as part of this fantasy back-to-the-land drive that some of us feel (myself included) when we're overwhelmed with the pressures of modern life, but it's always a bit of a shock to realize that the simple life isn't so simple, and it isn't really a cure for that icky, overwhelmed, disconnected feeling. These bees found a good source of crazy red food, and made crazy red honey, and we love to be smug about modern problems and say "see!" but nature's just as unfriendly. That lovely spread of gorgeous azaleas near your hive will turn out toxic honey, even though azaleas are natural and your bees are natural.

That's what gets me in this article--the invocation of the natural vs. the unnatural, which is of course, absurd. We're natural animals. What we make is natural. Cities are natural, cheese puffs are natural, red dye #40 is natural, inasmuch as it is the product of a natural system. The divide is our invention, and if we're going to be disdainful of the "unnatural," we need to work on our language to define what we're really talking about.

If it were me, I'd scratch my head, laugh about it, and be a little awed at the brilliance of a biological gestalt being made of busy little dumb parts that are collectively smart enough to figure such things out. I hardly had a harvest this year, because it was dry and the nectar flows were off, but that's really not why I keep bees. On a nice day, I can pull up a chair out there, ten feet from a hive, and just watch them coming and going, being as nothing more significant than an unexpected mountain on their flight path. The fruit trees produce, the vegetable gardens bring in a heavier crop, and I'll get my honey when the climate plays nicely.

As for the red bees, the 'keeps ought to fly around the neighborhoods themselves and see it all the way their girls would see it, look for discarded tanks of Fanta syrup behind the pizza joint and the dumpster behind the cupcake place, and offer to buy the cherry factory some screens.
posted by sonascope at 3:34 AM on December 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: Festering in its own juices in a warm room all night, with fingers on it.

did I do that right?
posted by gingerest at 4:01 AM on December 2, 2010


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