NYC Bees Turn Red from Too Much Cherry Juice

A bumblebee sits atop a gray-headed coneflower, Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003, in Dauphin, Pa. This flower is in a field of flowers on state game land that is planted as part of a wild life food and shelter project. Bumblebees are larger than most other bees and their elongated mouthparts enable them to pollinate most flowers. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
A bunch of Brooklyn bees have been coming home looking flushed.

New York City beekeeper Cerise Mayo was puzzled when her bees started showing up with mysterious red coloring. Their honey also turned as red as cough syrup. She told The New York Times a friend joked that the bees were imbibing the runoff at Dell's Maraschino Cherries Company, in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Mayo - whose first name means "cherry" in French - raises bees in that neighborhood and across the water on Governor's Island.

Tests confirmed the bees were riddled with Red Dye No. 40 - the same food coloring found in the cherry juice. Bee expert Andrew Cote tells the newspaper that bees had been creating a big nuisance at the factory.

The solution? Put up screens or provide a closer source of sweet nectar.