Every Day is a Food Day

Honey: 2 Queens, 1 Hive

March 15, 2022 Van Valin Productions & YumDay Season 3 Episode 26
Every Day is a Food Day
Honey: 2 Queens, 1 Hive
Show Notes Transcript

Anna and Lia have gotten themselves into a sticky situation - because this episode is all about honey!

First, Lia Ballentine, our Chef-Creator, tells us about the food holidays honoring our favorite all-natural sweetener like National Honey Month, as well as the hard-working bees that produce it. She also shares a bit of Norse mythology surrounding the origin of mead (the original mythical ingredients included blood and knowledge), and she reveals a swarm of famous women you may not know were beekeepers, like Michelle Obama and…Maria Von Trapp? Plus, hear about the summer Lia spent painting the backs of actual live bees (for science!).

In the Deep Dish, our Foodlosopher Anna Van Valin revisits one of our favorite topics: food crimes! She gives us the buzz on how a dramatic decline in bee populations has led to some to take desperate (and scandalous) measures - like the international honey tampering fraud scheme nicknamed “Honeygate,” and shocking hive heists, where beehive bandits actually steal hives for profit! But first, and most importantly, we ask: is Winnie the Pooh…okay??? Enjoy this SWEET episode! And let’s save the bees!

More info from the show:
- Watch the full video of Angelina Jolie’s “Women for Bees” initiative in partnership with UNESCO here.
- See a bee detective catch a thief on Vice News here.
- Learn all about mead and how hive theft affects beekeeping on this episode of The Drinking Horn Meadcast.

Connect with us!

  • Want to support our women and BIPOC-created independent podcast? Buy us a coffee!
  • For more great content about the stories & foods we talk about on the show (plus a peek BTS) follow us at @FoodDayPod on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook or check out our webpage.
  • Join our mailing list for extra content and to keep up with all the exciting things we have planned for this season.

0:00:00.9 Anna Van Valin:  Are you guys ready for this? This is... I'm so happy about this. [laughter] The practice of adulterating honey with other substances was nicknamed by the US government regulators as, wait for it, honey laundering.


0:00:17.6 Lia Ballentine: No way. That's too punny. Really?


0:00:19.6 AV: One of the greatest food puns I've ever heard. And we didn't even have to make it up.


0:00:26.1 LB: Honey laundering?


0:00:26.2 AV: Honey laundering.


0:00:27.3 LB: You're telling me somebody in the government...


0:00:30.2 AV: In the government.


0:00:30.3 LB: Came up with honey laundering.


0:00:31.8 AV: It makes me feel almost patriotic, honestly. [laughter]




0:00:37.3 AV: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Every Day is a Food Day, a show about the stories, scandals, history, and holidays behind your favorite foods.




0:01:01.4 AV: I'm Anna Van Valin, your resident Foodlosopher.


0:01:03.0 LB: And I'm Lia Ballentine, a chef creator.


0:01:07.5 AV: Today we've got a sweet new episode for you all about honey, watch out workers and drones, there are two queens in this hive. First off, Lia is going to tell us about the craziest summer job she ever had, painting landmine, hunting bees, then we'll get the buzz about major honey celebrations and some famous beekeepers you may not know about.


0:01:25.6 LB: Then Anna is going to revisit one of our favorite topics, food crimes, nectar tampering, international shipping fraud, and bee hive bandits, she'll comb through it all.


0:01:36.0 AV: Plus, we'll ask out loud what everyone's been thinking is Winnie-the-Pooh Okay. For more delicious content about these foods and stories and a peek behind the scenes, check out the links in on our show notes to connect with us on social media at Food Day Pod, visit our website and join our mailing list.


0:01:52.0 LB: If you wanna support this women and BIPOC created independent podcast, click the "buy me a coffee" link to help us cover the cost of production. And don't forget to leave a rating and review.




0:02:05.0 AV: Are you guys ready for some puns today?


0:02:07.1 LB: We're gonna have so many puns.


0:02:09.4 AV: There's gonna be a swarm of puns.


0:02:12.1 LB: You might be wondering what all the buzz is about, but we're here to talk about honey today.


0:02:15.8 AV: Do you wanna know how I prepared today for this episode?


0:02:19.9 LB: How did you prepare?


0:02:20.0 AV: I had Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast.


0:02:22.4 LB: You did?


0:02:23.7 AV: I did indeed.


0:02:25.4 LB: That's very heart-healthy of you.


0:02:27.1 AV: It is. In fact, some of the little cheerios are shaped like hearts now.


0:02:29.2 LB: Really?


0:02:30.0 AV: Yeah, [laughter] it's very good.


0:02:30.9 LB: That's a nice way to get into the honey spirit.


0:02:34.3 AV: Yeah, I like locked eyes with that bee on the box, really trying to commune with it, understand it, where it's coming from.


0:02:43.0 LB: Yeah.


0:02:44.4 AV: I loved working on this episode because now I am obsessed with bees.


0:02:47.3 LB: Yeah.


0:02:47.8 AV: Do you guys know about the politics inside the hive of the bees?


0:02:51.9 LB: It's fascinating.


0:02:53.2 AV: Fascinating.


0:02:56.4 LB: They have a whole structure and organization, they're like unionized. [laughter]


0:03:00.1 AV: Seriously, and they're all born with roles. Okay. So there's the queen orbs and her job is just to lay eggs, her job is to lay eggs and fertilize them, okay? Then there are the worker bees, and all the worker bees are female, and the queen puts out this pheromone to make their ovaries stop working, they're like IUDs for every bee. And then there's the drones, and they don't do anything, they just mate with the Queen, and all the drones are male, they don't have stingers, they don't go look for nectar, they don't go look for a pollen, they're just around, they're like cabana boys, they're just around to bond with the Queen. It's amazing.


0:03:37.1 LB: Oh yeah, it's incredible.


0:03:38.9 AV: Do you know about eviction day?


0:03:41.4 LB: [chuckle] When they kick out all of the lazy bums, the lazy bums ones? [laughter]


0:03:46.2 AV: Yes. So here's the thing. I know Lia you've studied bees, so you know all of this, but this is all new to me. [laughter] So, in the fall when they are about to go hibernate and they've gotten to the point where all the eggs are laid, so the queen is like can go to sleep, and they have all the honey that they need, the worker bees, the girl bees don't want the drones around anymore because they don't do anything, they do have no function and they're big, and so they're just gonna sit around and eat all our food. But what was fascinating to me is there's no natural mechanism that tells the drones to get out of there, you know what I mean? There's a thing that tells birds to fly south for winter and all these... And rats to get off a ship, there's nothing that tells the drones, "Your job is done, get out of here." So instead, what happens is they are evicted by the female worker bees who have stingers. The drones are way bigger than the worker bees, so what the worker bees do is they just sting the hell out of them and then drag their asses out of the hive.


0:04:41.0 LB: And they clean them out, yeah. [chuckle]


0:04:45.0 AV: It's amazing. I watched these videos on YouTube and you can see the little bees like dragging the big beat hubbies out of the hive, and it is amazing, so much drama.


0:04:55.8 LB: These are also very clear communicators, they tell you, "This is your place in the hive, this is what you do, and I'm sorry, drone, we have no use for you anymore, you're taking up space, we don't want you to tap into our food storage, we're gonna sting you so you can get the F out." [laughter]


0:05:11.0 AV: Right. There's like nothing's wasted, there's 100% efficiency, they're like the Borg, they're just like...


0:05:17.1 LB: The Borg? [laughter]


0:05:17.2 AV: They're the Borg of insects. [laughter]


0:05:19.7 LB: Bees are fascinating creatures.


0:05:21.1 AV: Totally fascinating. I loved it. And you have gotten up close and personal with the bees' inner workings.


0:05:28.7 LB: I have.


0:05:30.3 AV: Tell the people about this.


0:05:30.4 LB: Yes, oh my goodness, this is one of my favorite things that I did when I was in college. I was a field researcher for a crazy Bee Program where we studied the circadian rhythm of honey bees and tried to determine their time, like memory function, so how long could they remember something? Would they know when we would have sucrose solutions for them to eat at a certain place in the field? How long would they remember that? Then how did they go back to the hive and communicate it? So I would go out in the field like before the sun would rise, and I would sit there with a little petri dish.


0:06:04.4 LB: [laughter] And the sucrose solution, a couple of tiny sticks, and a thing of paint and I would wait for bees to come, and then I would actually tag and paint the backs of the bees with different colors.


0:06:14.8 AV: Wait, really?


0:06:16.3 LB: Yes, so while they're there...


0:06:18.3 AV: 'Cause the bees would land in the petri dish and then you could paint their backs a little bit?


0:06:22.8 LB: Paint their backs. And so what we would do when we painted their backs...


0:06:25.5 AV: You're so brave!


0:06:25.6 LB: I know, I was like, "I don't know if I'm allergic to bees, hopefully, they don't sting me." [chuckle] But if you're there and calm and then they're doing their job to grab some of the sugar water out of this dish, you could actually mark their backs and then you would see if they would return the next day. So we would actually keep track of white-blue was here, blue-white was here, yellow-blue was here. And then you would find out when the bees who weren't marked who came back, they were new recruits that were told where to go, so there was somebody at the hive who actually watched and tried to record what the waggle dance was that they would teach to the new recruits.


0:07:00.5 AV: Oh, explain the waggle dance, I love the waggle dance.


0:07:01.2 LB: So, the waggle dance is how a bee will communicate to other bees to tell them whatever information they need to know, so in this case it's like, where do you forage for nectar? And so a bee will do a dance, and that dance means something that gives direction, time, voice, like all of that information.


0:07:18.9 AV: Right, 'cause it has to do with the angle of the sun in the sky based on the direction you're... All kinds of... Bees are smarter than us, guys, is what we're getting at.


0:07:28.9 LB: Yeah, they're way smart. [chuckle] What was so crazy is when I first started this project, so I would show up at different times throughout the day, and then the next day, the bees already knew where you were going to be because there would be a swarm of them hovering over the placement of our next petri dish set. So what we would try to do is train them like, there's gonna be sugar water here, it's gonna be this type of solution, and it's here at this time, we'll move back like a few meters, at this time there's gonna be some more sucrose solution here. And they got to the point where they knew that in the next 15 minutes you were going to be moving to a different spot and you were... [laughter] It was like creepy, 'cause they'd be like swarming and ready for you.


0:08:10.5 AV: And what was this for? To combat bee jet lag or something? [laughter] Like what, was this just pure science to know more about bees?


0:08:18.2 LB: One of the things we were trying to determine too was how the weather affected their time memory function, so if there were some rainy days in between, would that mess up where they had navigated to in their memory where they knew that the sucrose solution was gonna be. And then the other thing which was really cool was our study was also a part of larger studies that were training bees to detect explosives.


0:08:45.0 AV: What?


0:08:45.0 LB: Yes. [chuckle] You can also train bees to detect things like bombs and landmines because you can get them used to a certain sense that are tied to like the nectar that they're forging. So with that sucrose solution, you could put in a little bit of gun powder. [chuckle]


0:09:02.2 AV: I was just gonna say, is it there just a little C4 in there?


0:09:05.8 LB: They can smell, I think, better than dogs or as good as dogs, like their sense of smell is that great.


0:09:12.8 AV: They need like police bees.


0:09:16.0 LB: Yeah.


0:09:16.3 AV: Like Rin Tin Tin.


0:09:17.7 LB: Mm-hmm.


0:09:19.5 AV: But it's...


0:09:20.0 LB: But it's a bee.


0:09:21.0 AV: It's a bee. A little tiny little collar, yeah.


0:09:25.7 LB: Oh, it would be so... It would be so cute, it would be so cute.


0:09:29.8 AV: Who knew?


0:09:30.0 LB: But yeah, I painted bees for a summer, summer I painted bees for summer, and it was really cool.


0:09:36.3 AV: I love it. I'm gonna have to start mining my life for some of these stories that are as cool as yours. You were dipping strawberries.


0:09:43.5 LB: Oh my gosh, strawberry dipping.


0:09:47.3 AV: You were making landmine hunting bees.


0:09:50.0 LB: Mm-hmm.


0:09:50.5 AV: Amazing.


0:09:51.0 LB: It was a lot of fun. And I never got stung.


0:09:52.9 AV: I've never done any kind of bee keeping or reached into a hive or anything, I do it. I probably want to know there's an EpiPen nearby, but at our age, what's the first thing you think of about bee stings? It's "My Girl."


0:10:06.5 LB: I know. Oh my gosh.


[video playback] Clip from "My Girl."


0:10:18.8 LB: He didn't have his glasses. He didn't have his glasses.


0:10:20.5 AV: My girl. Sorry, everyone, I shouldn't have brought that up.


0:10:29.3 LB: My girl, that was so sad.


0:10:31.2 AV: So sad. And then there was my girl too, and she got a new friend and I was like, Uh-huh.


0:10:35.2 LB: No, I don't like this.


0:10:36.8 AV: It's Marc or no one. [laughter] But then I also think of Winnie-the-Pooh.


0:10:43.0 LB: Yeah. So what's up with Winnie-the-Pooh?


0:10:44.7 AV: Do we need to talk... Do we need to talk about Winnie-the-Pooh?


0:10:48.0 LB: Yeah.


0:10:48.1 AV: He might have a problem.


0:10:51.3 LB: Honey addiction?


0:10:52.5 AV: Dude, did you ever go on the Winnie-the-Pooh ride at Disneyland?


0:10:58.3 LB: That's trippy.


0:11:00.0 AV: It is like a meth fever dream, you guys, like it goes in, you see all the characters and stuff, and then he breaks into a warehouse of honey or something, and he's like bathing in the honey, eating the honey, he gets super high, and then it goes into his tripping and all the Heffalumps and Woozles.


0:11:16.0 LB: The Heffalumps and Woozles.


[video playback]


0:11:29.8 AV: And there're like colors and the black lights change, and you just see this demonic Winnie-the-Pooh with his hands in his mouth like, ah, ah. [laughter]


0:11:39.2 LB: What's in his honey?


0:11:40.8 AV: What do they feed those bees, man? And it's always getting stuck in trees, yes, just like someone will bring you honey, man, wait. [laughter] But I did hear that bees are naturally afraid of bears, that is true, that bears eat honey and they go after beehives, and so I was listening to some interviews with some beekeepers and they were talking about part of the reason why the beekeeper costume is all white and is kind of slick and shiny is that it looks the opposite of a bear. And one woman was saying that once she went out into the field and she was wearing dark UGG boots and the bees attacked them.




0:12:15.5 AV: 'Cause they looked too much like bare feet and they were like yeah, you can't wear fuzzy fleece gloves, you can't... Any of that, because they will think you are a bear and they will come for you.


0:12:26.5 LB: You've been warned, guys, no UGG boots. [laughter]


0:12:29.6 AV: No fleece half zips around the bees, guys.


0:12:32.8 LB: Wow.


0:12:33.6 AV: Isn't that crazy?


0:12:34.7 LB: That's wild. [chuckle]


0:12:36.7 AV: But today we're gonna talk about all our honey holidays, we've got some great honey history, and then I'm gonna tell you about some crimes, some scandals.


0:12:45.6 LB: Ooh, yes.


0:12:46.8 AV: I'm so excited.


0:12:46.9 LB: We love a good scandal, a good crime.


0:12:49.8 AV: There's barrels involved, people...


0:12:53.4 LB: It comes back to the barrels, Barrels again?


0:12:54.4 AV: Barrels again. [chuckle] Keep an eye on those barrels. From now, whenever I see a gathering of barrels, I'm gonna be like something's shady, There's a crime about to happen right now.


0:13:01.9 LB: Huh-huh.




0:13:04.7 AV: Right, I would check those labels, they're probably fake.






0:13:08.7 AV: But should we get started?


0:13:09.9 LB: Yeah, let's do it.




0:13:29.8 AV: Alright Lia, so first things first, can you just tell us what is honey?




0:13:35.9 LB: I know, what is it really? Well...


0:13:37.9 AV: What is it? Bee spit?




0:13:40.7 LB: It's bee spit, some say it could be bee poop. [chuckle]


0:13:44.8 AV: Oh, man.


0:13:45.7 LB: No, it's not vomit or poop from bees, but it is the by-product of the flower nectar that is collected by the bees that they store in their honey stomach. It's a little sweet stomach.


0:13:56.5 AV: Oh, honey stomach.


0:13:56.9 LB: Yeah, when they get this nectar, it gets broken down into simple sugars and then they actually work together to break it down even further, 'cause bees, they're all about teamwork and collaboration, so what they do is...


0:14:07.7 AV: Absolutely.


0:14:09.5 LB: They pass it between the worker bees to kind of digest it more, so some people say like, "Wait, are they vomiting the nectar into another bee's mouth and then the nectar that's vomited back to them?" I mean kind of...




0:14:22.9 AV: But they're sort of like baby birding it, like mama bird baby birding.


0:14:24.8 LB: Exactly.


0:14:26.1 AV: It, right?


0:14:26.9 LB: Right. They're just helping to break it down, breaking it down into the simple sugars, and then when it's ready, think when they've gotten rid of a bunch of the excess moisture, then they store it in the comb and then they cap it, so then now they've got food that they can use to energize themselves to do more pollinating work, they have food that's stored up for when they go into hibernation in the winter time, and the great thing is they make so much of this that we get to benefit from that because beekeepers can then harvest the excess from the combs and give us the honey that we so love in all of our foods and other yummy things.


0:15:00.8 AV: So this is important, they're not taking the honey that the bees need to live on and reproduce, they're taking the excess.


0:15:07.7 LB: Right, it's all the extra stuff, and if you've seen videos of beekeepers pulling out the combs, they look pretty crazy, kind of like all this wax coating and stuff on there.


0:15:17.8 AV: Dude, the hives, if you guys haven't seen them, they look like wooden file boxes. Imagine a file box that has hanging folders, but instead of it being hanging folders, it's like frames filled with white wax and dripping honey and covered in bees.


0:15:34.8 LB: Yeah, and there's a lot. In a hive, you could probably get hundreds and hundreds of pounds of honey from one... Bee hive there, so there's a lot of honey that we can get.


0:15:43.7 AV: So we are robbing them, but it's only the excess.


0:15:46.5 LB: Exactly, if you're a good beekeeper, you're gonna make sure that they've got enough to go through the winter months and to keep doing their great bee pollinating work. So don't worry.


0:15:54.7 AV: Okay.


0:15:55.5 LB: 'Cause bees have been around for a while. Honey's been around for quite a bit too. It's actually, one of the world's first sweeteners. So there are records of beekeeping that have appeared in old Egyptian hieroglyphs, and then just last year in December, archaeologists found a 7,500-year-old cave painting of humans gathering honey in a rock shelter in the Iberian mountains in Spain, so...


0:16:16.9 AV: Wow.


0:16:17.9 LB: Beekeeping has been a thing for quite some time. They say that the bees originated in Southeast Asia, so it was not until the mid-1600s until the honey bees ended up making their way into the New World, and that's when we start to domesticate them here. So honey was actually really that main sweetener until cane sugar became more widely available in the 19th century, and that's something that we talked about in our pumpkin pie episode, was the way that cane sugar sort of changed how we were baking things, making different goods, but up until that time, yeah you'd have to rely on things like honey or maple syrup to help sweeten your foods.


0:16:53.9 AV: Right, and we talked about this in the maple syrup episode, that abolitionists were looking for alternatives to sugar cane, which was produced by slave labor, like honey.


0:17:03.9 LB: Exactly. So this was a great way to stand up for what you believed in by not using cane sugar but using an alternative sweetener that was available through a process like beekeeping.


0:17:15.6 AV: Awesome.


0:17:15.7 LB: Yeah, so honey is such a popular sweetener, and it was one of the most popular pantry staples out there because it basically never goes bad.


0:17:24.5 AV: That's right, it has a crazy long shelf life, right?


0:17:27.8 LB: That's true. Yeah, it can last forever. [chuckle]


0:17:31.8 AV: That's why it was in the shelters. Yeah, in our very first episode, aww, remember our very first episode?


0:17:37.5 LB: Aww.


0:17:39.7 AV: I talked about survival crackers, and we talked about the bunkers and all the food that was in the bunkers and honey was one of them.


0:17:45.9 LB: Yeah, it was a highly recommended food that you needed to take with you when you had to duck and cover and hide in your bunker.


0:17:53.9 AV: Yeah, that's feeling more relevant these days, so guys, [chuckle] make sure you have your all-purpose survival crackers, some honey and a desk to crawl under.




0:18:02.9 S?: That's a callback.


0:18:05.8 LB: Yeah, please make note, and if you need to learn about other foods that you need in your bunker, please go back and listen to our very first episode in season one. [chuckle]


0:18:14.7 AV: Love it.


0:18:15.6 LB: So there's honey everywhere, we've got it now in the New World, there's bees all over the place, honey production just gone wild and we love honey so much that there are food holidays related to it, and that's how you know that it's a very great popular food.


0:18:29.0 AV: That's how you know that it's important.


0:18:30.5 LB: Exactly. [chuckle]


0:18:31.2 AV: Well, there's a plenty to celebrate.


0:18:32.6 LB: There is, there's a lot to celebrate, not just the honey, but the bees. So I'm gonna talk about four different holidays that are all honey related and give you a little bit of history behind each one. So the first one is National "I Love Honey" Day. It's pretty obvious. That's a pretty obvious day to celebrate honey.


0:18:49.2 AV: Wait, it's an "I Love" Day and not a lovers day?


0:18:51.7 LB: Yeah, it's an "I Love" Day.


0:18:53.7 AV: Interesting.


0:18:54.6 LB: So it's all about me loving my honey. [chuckle]


0:18:57.7 AV: 'Cause we've seen in the past, there's Peanut Lovers Day, there's Chocolate Lovers Day, but this is an "I Love Honey" Day.


0:19:04.8 LB: "I Love Honey" Day.


0:19:05.4 AV: Maybe it's the day to come at, it's like a Coming Out Day.


0:19:08.5 LB: Yeah. You proclaim your love for the honey.


0:19:10.5 AV: Proclaim your love to the people.




0:19:13.4 LB: That's right. And you do this on December 18th every year. So go ahead and mark your calendars. That is the day you step out onto your balcony and yell, "I love honey!" [chuckle] No, this one we don't know the origin of it. It's one of those internet things that spread, but it's a chance to celebrate your love for honey.


0:19:32.1 AV: Love it.


0:19:33.0 LB: If you wanna find a more official celebration, there is National Honey Month, and that happens during the month of September. National Honey Month was started in 1989 by the National Honey Board.


0:19:46.0 AV: Food board.


0:19:46.7 LB: You knew there had to be [chuckle] a food board involved, right?


0:19:48.8 AV: There had to be. I mean, a month? You don't get a whole month to celebrate a food from like a meme or an internet thing.


0:19:55.0 LB: No.


0:19:55.7 AV: If there's a month, there's a board behind it.


0:19:58.0 LB: Exactly, right? We had a Pork Month, we've got all the months...


0:20:01.0 AV: Exactly.


0:20:01.9 LB: Do have boards behind it, and the same goes for honey.


0:20:04.7 AV: You need that muscle.




0:20:05.8 LB: That's right, you do. [laughter] So the National Honey Board is a research and promotion group that was formed around the mid-80s by honey producers and industry representatives to help educate consumers about honey, honey products, and just the industry in general. So today that honey board operates under the oversight of the USDA. It's not a regulatory agency and doesn't really have real powers, but, I mean, it's got some influence, right?


0:20:32.0 AV: It's offish. [chuckle] Yeah, it's offish.


0:20:34.8 LB: So it is funded by the honey industry, so every one cent of every pound of domestic and imported honey actually goes back to the honey board to pay for research, marketing, and promotional programs, which include National Honey Month and all those celebrations and campaigns.


0:20:50.8 AV: What kind of incredible events can we expect?


0:20:54.0 LB: They put out really great info booklets...


0:20:57.1 AV: Ooh.


0:20:58.0 LB: Pamphlets, [chuckle] downloadables...


0:21:01.0 AV: E-brochures.


0:21:02.0 LB: Yeah, to just grow awareness of local honey, honey producers, beekeeping, and there's a lot of things that you're gonna talk about in the Deep Dish related to bees that are very pressing issue right now.


0:21:13.0 AV: Yes.


0:21:13.1 LB: So they're doing a lot of work on that.


0:21:14.1 AV: There are some of that. All joking aside, very serious issues from these.


0:21:18.1 LB: And they do this in September because September is usually the month when honey collection season ends. So this is the time when bees start to prep their hives for winter. And I like to think of it as like their wrap party. Like, "We had a great season, guys. It was all good, and now we've got Honey Month to just celebrate all the cool stuff we did over the year, making honey, making people happy, making food sweet."


0:21:42.7 AV: Yeah, it's like their cast party.


0:21:44.1 LB: It is. They're all like high-fiving each other.




0:21:47.0 AV: Totally, like they give out silly awards...


0:21:49.9 LB: Yup.


0:21:50.3 AV: Like buzziest...


0:21:52.0 LB: Oh, yeah.


0:21:52.1 AV: You know, fuzziest back...


0:21:54.0 LB: Oh, mm-hmm.


0:21:55.1 AV: Wears their paint best.


0:21:57.0 LB: Yeah. [laughter]


0:21:58.9 AV: Here's a question. Since National Honey Month is in September, do you think that the worker bees celebrate Labor Day?


0:22:07.0 LB: I bet they do. They have to.


0:22:09.9 AV: They are organized labor.


0:22:11.1 LB: They are organized labor. [chuckle]


0:22:13.0 AV: I don't know if they could take a day off though.


0:22:14.7 LB: Probably not. [chuckle] They work so darn hard. I wonder if this is also... It's like eviction time. So this wrap party is also the time that they're like, "Well... " [chuckle]


0:22:20.4 AV: That's true. It's the last hurrah.


0:22:23.1 LB: "Time to clear the hives." [chuckle]


0:22:25.9 AV: "It's one last hurrah. So you all have to get out!"


0:22:29.6 LB: "Get out of my hive."


0:22:29.9 AV: "Freeloaders."


0:22:31.1 LB: But of course, you can't celebrate just honey. You have to celebrate the bees. So the bees get their own day as well.


0:22:37.0 AV: Oh, that's nice.


0:22:38.1 LB: Yeah. So there's World Honey Bee Day. And if you wanna celebrate honey, you gotta praise the bees, and that's celebrated on the third Saturday in August. So it's kinda like right before the wrap party.


0:22:50.0 AV: I love that. If you want the honey, you have to praise the bees.


0:22:53.8 LB: Yes, [chuckle] you have to praise the bees. [chuckle] So the World Honey Bee Day, it actually started out as a simple National Honey Bee Day in 2009, and that was a result of a proclamation from the Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack. So again, it's the USDA proclamation...


0:23:13.0 AV: Very offish.


0:23:13.1 LB: Mm-hmm. And that started because they've received a petition from a small group of beekeepers to start an awareness day to honor the honey bees and beekeeping. And so there are a lot of organizations in the US that really help promote Honey Bee Day. One main one is the Pennsylvania Apiculture Group, which is made up of around 3,000 beekeepers in that state. And then there's a non-profit called HoneyLove that's based where you are, Anna, in Los Angeles. And what they do is they work to promote urban beekeeping. So that's... I mean, that's becoming a thing. We've got to find places for hives.


0:23:44.0 AV: Right, it's a big thing. And especially in more residential areas where people have planted flowers and they have yards, there's a little bit more biodiversity, and so that's actually a great place for bees to be. So yeah, I think... Uh-huh, "bees to be." [chuckle] I think that urban beekeeping in Los Angeles was just re-legalized in 2012, 2014. So it's a relatively new thing that people are doing here.


0:24:09.5 LB: That's really cool. There are spaces and places that we wouldn't even think could be a great spot for an apiary. I know here there are some wonderful rooftop apiaries that people have set up.


0:24:18.9 AV: Right.


0:24:19.9 LB: So, I said, "Perfect." We need them. We need bees. [chuckle] Let's find a great spot for them. There are some other days where you can celebrate honey because it is a pretty important ingredient in many foods. But one food, or shall I say drink, specific day that is related to honey that I wanna mention is National Mead Day. So that day is on August 6th, and it was created in 2002 by the American Home Brewers Association. Mead, if you've not had it before, is basically like a fermented honey water. And the mead that I've had has been pretty delicious.


0:24:51.3 AV: Is it like a beer?


0:24:52.7 LB: It's not like beer.


0:24:53.0 AV: What is it like?


0:24:54.0 LB: Yeah, you basically take honey, water, and yeast, and let it ferment. So it's simple to like the beer-making process. There's a great spot in Northern California, it's called Heidrun Meadery, and they make theirs with like a champagne yeast, so it's like a tasty bubbly Prosecco. The different flavors of the mead are based on the types of blossoms that the bees are pollinating, so there's one that's orange blossom mead and it's because that's where they're getting their honey from.


0:25:22.1 AV: Right, the nectar.


0:25:22.8 LB: Like bees that are at North Blossom Farm.


0:25:24.5 AV: Yeah, I gotta try some mead.


0:25:26.1 LB: You got to. It's so good. You know, honey has been called the food of the gods, so mead, in a sense, is kind of like the drink of the gods. And mead was also thought to be one of the oldest alcoholic libations out there, dating back to 3,000 BC or maybe even older than that. But I wanna tell you a story because I love mythology, and this is about mead and Norse mythology.


0:25:47.9 AV: Whoa!


0:25:48.3 LB: And Anna, you've been to like Viking museums and all [laughter] that stuff.


0:25:51.5 AV: Yeah.


0:25:52.2 LB: You might know a bit about this.


0:25:54.4 AV: Yeah, I've been in Norway and Oslo, and I've been to the Viking museum, and it was super cool.


0:26:00.4 LB: Oh, in Norse mythology, there is a magical mead known as the Mead of Poetry. Apparently, these Norse gods created a man named Kvasir, who was so smart that he had the answers to everything, he was, like, a genius, and what he loved to do was go around, travel and tell everyone everything. And eventually, he got killed by two dwarves who really didn't like him knowing everything. [laughter]


0:26:20.3 AV: He sounds like a know-it-all, like, really obnoxious.


0:26:23.5 LB: He was a know-it-all, and the dwarves did not like that, so they killed him. And then they drained him of his blood and found that when they mixed the blood with the honey, they made a blood honey mead drink, and if you drink it, then you could basically gain all of that man's wisdom.


0:26:38.8 AV: So they became the thing they hated? [laughter]


0:26:41.5 LB: Yes. [laughter] But according to the myth, this is how poetry was introduced to the world.


0:26:48.0 AV: So knowledge mixed with honey?


0:26:50.7 LB: Mm-hmm, but I guess... I mean, you couldn't just drink the blood straight up. Yeah, they mixed it with honey. [laughter]


0:26:55.3 AV: No, you gotta have some class.


0:26:56.9 LB: Yeah.


0:26:57.5 AV: So is the legend, the drinking mead makes you smarter or something?


0:27:01.1 LB: That's what I like to say, like, "Give me that glass of mead." [laughter]


0:27:04.7 AV: Love it.


0:27:05.7 LB: But I thought it'd be fun to kind of talk about some famous beekeepers that we might be familiar with.


0:27:10.3 AV: Aww.


0:27:10.7 LB: So this might inspire you to wanna learn more about bees and beekeeping. So the first one is Michelle Obama. Hello? [chuckle]


0:27:16.9 AV: What?


0:27:18.3 LB: Yes.


0:27:19.1 AV: Was it part of her garden?


0:27:20.1 LB: It was part of her garden. She decided to work with one of the White House carpenters to start a beehive in the White House kitchen garden, and in that first year of having this hive, they actually turned out more than 130 pounds of honey, which they use in the food that they made at the White House, they gave it away as gifts to dignitaries, and they also donated it to kitchens in the DC area that were serving the homeless, so of course, right?


0:27:42.8 AV: Yeah.


0:27:43.4 LB: And she also created a pollinator garden too, to take care of the non-bee pollinators out there.


0:27:47.9 AV: Oh, so considerate?


0:27:49.4 LB: Mm-hmm. And then other famous beekeeper, you might have heard of her before, Sylvia Plath. [laughter]


0:27:55.6 AV: Whoa!


0:27:56.8 LB: I know.


0:27:57.2 AV: I bet the honey was dark and deep and brooding.


0:28:00.7 LB: Oh, for sure. Her father was a biologist and beekeeper, and she actually has a poem called The Beekeeper's Daughter. So she had taken up beekeeping, and a few months before her death, she wrote a collection of poems about bees. They are very dark. [chuckle]


0:28:14.4 AV: Sure.


0:28:14.7 LB: They're beautiful. But she does use the bees as a metaphor for community and female assertion, you know, the queen, and then life and death, so it's pretty interesting to see how bees played a big role in her poetry.


0:28:26.7 AV: Wow!


0:28:27.0 LB: And then this one's one of my favorites, Maria von Trapp was a beekeeper.


0:28:31.9 AV: The real one, or...


0:28:33.2 LB: The real... [laughter]


0:28:34.1 AV: Like, in the cut scenes... In a special features for the living?


0:28:37.2 LB: In between.




0:28:39.4 LB: The real Maria von Trapp, not the Julie Andrews Maria von Trapp. So when the von Trapps fled Austria, when they ended up coming to the United States, they settled in Stowe, Vermont, where they ran a farm, they had a music camp, and it was there that Maria decided to take up beekeeping. And I think you can still go visit the von Trapp Family Lodge.


0:28:58.5 AV: I wanna go to their Music Camp.




0:29:00.5 LB: Yeah, same. [laughter] I just wanna sing Do-Re-Mi all day. [laughter]


0:29:05.2 AV: Do we all get to wear... Like, are the camp uniforms made out of curtains?


0:29:09.4 LB: They have to be. Oh, my gosh.




0:29:17.0 LB: And then probably our most new beekeeper, famous celebrity beekeeper is Angelina Jolie. So she is someone that's been making waves in bee culture 'cause of her recent partnership with UNESCO and a French beauty brand. So she had been working with this French beauty brand for a while that actually uses honey in a lot of its skin care products, and as she learned more about beekeeping and what's happening in the bee colonies, she really wanted to do something about it. So she teamed up with that brand and UNESCO to create The Women for Bees Program, and the goal of that program is to train 50 women to be beekeepers, and they're spread out across the world, and over the next five years, their mission is to repopulate 125 million bees by 2025 because we're losing so many of them at a really alarming rate.


0:30:04.9 Angelina Jolie: As I started to work with Guerlain we spoke often about the bees and the commitment Guearlain already had to the bees and then we really started to talk about what could we do to improve the situation what could we do both for the bees and also for women and what would that look like.


0:30:24.9 AV: I love that, and it probably also gives those women who are being trained as beekeepers some sustainability, right? They can sell beehive honey, they can have their own businesses, they have some income and stability in their lives. I love that.


0:30:38.1 LB: Exactly. Yeah, they're creating their own economies now. Now they are able to create their own work, hire workers, manage these farms, have a product, and it's pretty amazing. So it just launched last year, and I'm curious to watch it and see where it goes.


0:30:52.7 AV: Very cool.


0:30:52.9 LB: So it's obvious that bees are so important, we're losing them, and you're gonna dig into a little more of those issues as well as bee crimes that are happening. [chuckle]


0:31:03.4 AV: Yes, we're gonna talk about what's happening to the bees and what people are doing in response, which is not always on the up and up, when we get back to the Deep Dish.




0:31:26.7 AV: So when I was doing research for this episode, like I said, I got super excited because bees are super cool, but I also got really scared, okay?




0:31:37.5 AV: Because bees are it, you guys, like, they're it. Without bees, there is no agriculture. Every nut fruit and vegetable on this planet needs bees to pollinate them in order to grow, and that is 80% of the world's crops. Everything except grains, basically, needs a bee.


0:31:56.9 LB: Yeah.


0:31:58.5 AV: And there's nothing else. We have not come up with a machine or a robot or any kind of process that replicates or replaces what bees do, okay? So without them, [chuckle] everything stops. And because my partner is a crisis management consultant, and I have been listening to every single one of his Zoom calls for two years, I know that that is called a single point of failure.




0:32:22.2 LB: Oh man, I'm starting to sweat and I'm getting really scared.


0:32:25.5 AV: I'm pretty sure that the end of the world is not gonna come from zombies, or robots, or Zuckerberg, it's gonna come from losing the bees guys.


0:32:34.6 LB: I know we can't lose them.


0:32:35.9 AV: Can't lose the bees. Okay, and we're not quite there yet, but bee populations are shrinking at alarming rates, we've all heard this, you've alluded to it, and when scarcity hits something that people rely on, they tend to get creative and sometimes criminal.


0:32:52.6 LB: Don't we know it?


0:32:55.0 AV: Hey guys, there are a lot of honey crimes and bee scandals out there. Alright, so today, first I'm gonna tell you why we need the bees and why their population is shrinking, and then I'm gonna talk about two specific kinds of crimes and scandals that are rocking honeycombs across the globe.


0:33:12.3 LB: Whoa.


0:33:12.4 AV: Are you with me?


0:33:12.5 LB: I'm ready.


0:33:14.1 AV: I hope I'm not over-promising. I'm really trying to sell this as being exciting. So first, why do we need bees... Well, like we said, like we had talked about, we need them to pollinate all of our flowering plants, including the ones that make our food, and they are our only source of honey. Yeah, but it's not just that we need them, period. The demand for bees and honey is actually increasing for a few reasons. One, the population keeps growing, there's more people.


0:33:40.7 LB: Yeah.


0:33:41.4 AV: They need to eat, and more people eating honey too. And two, as people are getting more picky about the ingredients in their products and their food. Including honey, means that you can say that your thing is natural, right? You can say that something is naturally sweetened or has a natural flavour, if there's honey in it. The third thing is that crops that are pollination-heavy are increasing, like almonds. We're gonna get to almonds, they're big players here. But the problem is, even though we need more and more bees they're dying out in record numbers, losses have gotten up to 35% to 50% year over year in the last decade, so that means in a course of a year.


0:34:19.4 LB: That's crazy.


0:34:22.0 AV: 35% to 50% of bees will just die off, it's nuts. So let's look at why this is happening, one thing is pesticides and insecticides. They are insects.


0:34:29.6 LB: Yes.


0:34:31.9 AV: So, you put on insecticide, that'll do the job. Another thing is diseases and parasites particularly, there is a mite that's been devastating beehives for the last few years, and it is called the Verroa Destructor. And that is not a transformer.


0:34:49.2 LB: That's scary.


0:34:49.9 AV: This is not like a He-Man villain, the mite is called the Verroa Destructor.


0:34:54.2 LB: Geez.


0:34:55.7 AV: And another is a lack of biodiversity, bees need access to diverse plants and wildflowers in order to thrive, so they're really hurt by things like deforestation or paving over open fields that have wildflowers. And another thing is monoculture, monoculture means growing only one crop, and this is very efficient for farming, so producers will plant fields and fields and fields of just one thing, but there's some problems with this. One is that obviously this is the opposite of biodiversity. You are planting one thing, [chuckle] another is that they have to use a ton more pesticides and other chemicals to protect that crop, because if one plant gets sick, it can spread through the entire field and then you got nothing.


0:35:40.8 LB: Right.


0:35:41.5 AV: And you only planted one thing.


0:35:43.5 LB: Guys come on, this approach never works, right, at least two. Sow that over here and sow that over there.


0:35:50.2 AV: Also, since the whole crop is the same plant, it means that they all flower at the same time, which means they all need to be pollinated at the same time, so you need a ton of bees all at once, this will come into play in our second honey crime.


0:36:03.7 LB: Ooh.


0:36:05.2 AV: And there's one other thing that isn't exactly bees dying. It's this sort of crazy phenomenon, it is equally devastating and it's a total mystery, and it is called colony collapse. It's so dramatic, you guys, when I say colony collapse, I'm thinking of the fall of the Mayan empire, there's like meteors coming out of the sky, temples are caving in, people are running and screaming, colony collapse. It's actually much more mysterious and kind of simple, colony collapse happens when all the bees, except for the Queen and a few of the really young bees just leave, the hives will be fine one day, and then the beekeepers will go back out to check on them and all the bees are just gone. Not dead on the ground, they didn't die in the hive, they just snooped out, they're gone.


0:37:03.5 LB: Bye.


0:37:03.6 AV: Bye.


0:37:05.2 AV: And scientists and beekeepers have no idea why this is happening. Can you imagine if you put so much time and effort into a hive, you raise these bees, you checking them all the time, you give them everything they need, and then they just peace out.


0:37:20.7 LB: Right. [chuckle]


0:37:20.8 AV: I would feel abandoned.


0:37:23.9 LB: That'd be so sad.


0:37:24.0 AV: I would take it personally.


0:37:24.7 LB: It does take a lot of care.


0:37:27.0 AV: Right? It would hurt.


0:37:28.7 LB: And then they're gone.


0:37:29.8 AV: They are gone, what'd I do guys? I smoke you too much? [laughter] Did I wear the uggs too many times? Okay, so we've got increasing demand, but decreased supply. So cue the crime. The first crime we're gonna talk about it specifically about honey, so if I can bring you all back with me to our peanut butter episode, we talked about how some companies try to get a leg up on their competition by saying that their peanut butter was made of 100% peanuts, but then we're actually mixing in things that would make it more spreadable, less oily, etcetera, like say, handfuls of crisco.


0:38:06.4 LB: Not peanut butter.


0:38:07.3 AV: It's not peanut butter. It's a peanut spread, don't put crisco in my peanut butter. Well, there's a similar phenomenon here, in the 1970s after the invention of sugar syrups like high-fructose corn syrup. Adulterated honey started appearing, so basically to meet demand and undercut competitors, some producers and by some, we mostly mean China. Started using artificial sugar syrups to dilute the pure honey, and sometimes they even fed the syrup to the bees instead of nectar.


0:38:38.6 LB: Oh no, that's so sad.


0:38:39.9 AV: I know isn't that terrible. So the pract... Are you guys ready for this? This is... I'm so happy about this. The practice of adulterating honey with other substances was nicknamed by the US government regulators as wait for it. Honey laundering.


0:38:56.8 LB: No way. That's too punny. Really?


0:39:00.6 AV: One of the greatest food puns I've ever heard... And we didn't even have to make it up.


0:39:03.8 LB: Honey laundering?


0:39:04.0 AV: Honey laundering.


0:39:05.3 LB: You're telling me somebody in the government...


0:39:09.1 AV: In the government.


0:39:11.6 LB: Came up with honey laundering.


0:39:12.9 AV: It makes me feel almost patriotic, honestly. [laughter]


0:39:15.3 LB: Who was the person that came up with this?


0:39:17.2 AV: I don't know but I hope they got a promotion.


0:39:19.0 LB: Honey laundering.


0:39:22.3 AV: So good anyway, China was producing massive amounts of cheap Adulterated honey, then dumping it into US markets to drive the American Honey Producers out of business, and at first, US labs were able to detect the alternate sugars in the honey, but then the Chinese producers that switch to serve made of grains like rice, which were much harder to detect, and they also figured out how to blend different honeys from different places so that they weren't traceable, and pretty much every time we figured out a way to identify their fake honey, they would come up with a new way to evade the testing, and it's still going on today, just goes on and on.


0:39:57.9 LB: My gosh.


0:39:58.7 AV: So beekeepers and Honey Producers begged the government to do something about this, and in 2001, they put a 200% tariff on honey coming in from China in order to try to level the playing field for American producers. That's pretty high. So that means for every $1 worth of honey, there was $2 in taxes on it, basically...


0:40:19.0 LB: Wow.


0:40:19.8 AV: Yeah, then a weird thing happened after 2001 when the tariff was put on, the amount of honey coming from China Tanked, totally decreased success, right? But then the honey coming for places like India, Vietnam, Malaysia, places that basically had no honey industry the year before, those imports went through the roof.


0:40:42.0 LB: So suddenly.


0:40:45.1 AV: Suddenly now that's crazy.


0:40:45.2 LB: Your Honey now coming from places that didn't have it before.


0:40:48.8 AV: So yeah, they tested the honey and it was all Chinese honey, they were just doing something called trans-shipping.


0:40:56.1 LB: Oh.


0:40:56.2 AV: Which is shipping things through another country to hide its real origin.


0:41:01.9 LB: Crazy.


0:41:02.0 AV: So Now, the US authority is not only have to test all the honey to make sure it's legit, now they have to track where it's all coming from, so this leads me to a case from the mid-aughts. A case dubbed "Honeygate."


0:41:13.3 LB: "Honeygate."


0:41:16.1 AV: Which at the time was the biggest food fraud case in American history.


0:41:21.4 LB: No way.


0:41:22.1 AV: It might give you some flashbacks to the great Maple sort of heist in this one. There was a German-based food conglomerate with an office in Chicago named Alfred L. Wolf. And it used to import and distribute food products including honey. In 2007, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce got a tip that the executives at Alfred L. Wolf were bringing in massive amounts of Chinese honey and lying about it. So they started investigating, gathered their evidence, and then when they were ready, they did a full SWAT team raid on this honey office.


0:41:58.4 LB: Wow.


0:41:58.5 AV: Investigators combed through millions of documents, emails, samples of honey and they uncovered a conspiracy. The company had been secretly importing honey from China and the lengths that they want to cover it up or in saying they were keeping two sets of paperwork...


0:42:18.2 LB: Well, this is too much work.


0:42:18.3 AV: One real set and one set that was totally sanitized that they gave to their retailers and distributors, they created a fake country of origin slips for the shipments, they would swap the labels on Chinese containers for fake ones. They would stop the honey in a third country and move the honey from one barrel to another, the barrels people, the barrels.


0:42:39.4 LB: Oh the barrels.


0:42:40.4 AV: And in order to make it untraceable, they would even blend the Chinese honey with glucose syrup, honey from other countries, or creek water.


0:42:49.1 LB: The creek water, I was gonna say the Creek water made it's way back?


0:42:49.2 AV: I'm kidding. Just seeing if you're paying attention. Investigators found that through the scam, the company had dodged $80,000,000 in import duties.


0:43:07.9 LB: Dang.


0:43:08.0 AV: And they made a huge profit selling pure honey that was not pure...


0:43:11.3 LB: That is so crazy.


0:43:15.2 AV: This really stung. So they decided to do something about it. Now, most of the conspirators were either in Germany or in China, except for two National Sales Manager, Stephanie Giesselbach, and her boss, the head of the Chicago office, Magnus Von Bruddenbach. He was born for crime.


0:43:39.6 LB: With a name like that. You have to be... Yeah.


0:43:41.9 AV: But like this level crime, import, export crime. He's not stealing TVs.


0:43:46.6 LB: No, no, no.


0:43:48.3 AV: So they have questioned both Stephanie and Magnus about this when they did the rate in both claimed ignorance and innocence, but then a few days later, the DHS got a tip that Stephanie had cancelled her lease and sold her car and cut off her electric and phone, which means what... Someone's granted someone skip in town. Right, and skipping town doesn't... Exactly. Scream innocent, and they wanted to arrest her before she fled the country, so they needed an emergency warrant to go get her before she got on the plane, they had found an email where Stephanie mentions transferring the Chinese honey into different barrels before it got to the shores they knew they had her, and this allowed them to get an emergency warrant just in time to find out that Magnus was at that moment driving Stephanie to O'Hare Airport that day. They made some calls and then Stephanie was boarding her flight to Hamburg, ICE agent swooped in and arrested her, you mean.


0:44:44.0 LB: They swarmed in...


0:44:46.2 AV: They swarmed... Oh my God how did I missed they swarmed.


[overlapping conversation]


0:44:54.5 AV: They also chased down Magnus and arrested him too, so the two maintained their innocence, so they had no idea how any of this happened, but after two weeks in an American prison, Stephanie was like... Yeah, it was all fake. She told authorities that 85% to 90% of all the honey that the company's sold was fraudulent.


0:45:14.3 LB: Whoa.


0:45:14.4 AV: And she and Von Bruddenbock both admitted to personally... Okay, in purchase orders for Chinese honey that skipped $20 million in duties in just two years. Two years.


0:45:27.3 LB: That's insane.


0:45:27.4 AV: I mean...


0:45:28.9 LB: That's a lot of crime.


0:45:30.4 AV: That's a lot of honey too.


0:45:32.0 LB: That is a lot of honey.


0:45:34.3 AV: But they agreed to cooperate with the investigation and they each spent one year and one day in prison and then had to return to Germany. But the weird thing is Magnus is on LinkedIn.




0:45:45.6 LB: As a connection? [laughter]


0:45:46.2 AV: He was not in my network, but if you Google him, his LinkedIn page comes up. So there you go, just letting you people know.


0:45:55.0 LB: Wow! What does his profile look like? [chuckle]


0:45:56.5 AV: It's just like a creepy white guy in a suit, I'm assuming he's Magnus, and then it list a few companies in German, and it says he is located in Hamburg, so he went back to Hamburg.


0:46:07.4 LB: Oh, what kind of endorsement she got, Magnus. [laughter]


0:46:11.5 AV: What kind of skills you got listed on your LinkedIn profile.


0:46:12.7 LB: Yeah. [laughter] Expert at honey laundering?


0:46:16.1 AV: Yeah.




0:46:16.7 AV: Will drive friends to the airport. That was nice of him, though.


0:46:20.9 LB: Yeah, taken anyone to any airport?


0:46:23.0 AV: God, who's gonna drive a friend to the O'Hare.


0:46:25.6 LB: Uh-huh, no, thank you.


0:46:26.7 AV: Uh-huh.


0:46:27.3 LB: You can just take the L for that or call for a cab. [laughter]


0:46:30.6 AV: I'd pay for your Uber, Lia. That's what I did.




0:46:32.5 LB: Yeah, that's what you did.


0:46:33.9 AV: I'd call you the Uber, 'cause I love you.


0:46:37.9 LB: Oh, that's so sweet. What I don't get about fraud is, it's just so much work, people, having to create two sets of papers.


0:46:44.8 AV: Two sets of paperwork? Are you kidding me?


0:46:47.8 LB: Yeah.


0:46:48.0 AV: Oh, my God, trying to keep track of my receipts is enough.


0:46:50.5 LB: Yeah, it's too much work, it's too much work.


0:46:52.2 AV: Too much, too much.


0:46:54.1 LB: Mm-hmm, yeah.


0:46:54.3 AV: We'll stick to other crimes. Wait. [laughter]




0:47:00.5 AV: Alright, so honey adulteration is still a big problem. And there was another big case in 2013, a very similar scenario. So this is something that is an ongoing issue. Authorities have to keep an eye out for it, and there are some ways to tell fake honey from real honey.


0:47:15.3 AV: Now, we are going to talk about another kind of crime, that targets bees and beekeepers, hive heists.


0:47:22.0 LB: Hive heist, no.


0:47:22.6 AV: Hive heists. That's right. People stealing other people's hives, and I'll tell you why. First of all, I wanna give a shoutout. It's funny that you mentioned mead earlier, because I wanna give a shoutout to another Indie podcast, a little, like, game... Recognizes game, love between any podcasts. So I listen to a whole bunch of big name podcasts to do research on this, but the one that was the most well thought out, the most well research and the most entertaining was an Indie podcast called the Drinking Horn Mead Cast.




0:47:54.1 LB: The drinking Horn Mead Cast? That sounds pretty cool.


0:47:56.8 AV: The mead cast, where they talk all about all things mead, and it's some guys who have a meadery in Arizona, and all I have to say is like, I bet their Renfair costumes are on point.


0:48:11.9 LB: You know it, you know it.


0:48:12.8 AV: The homemade Chainmail?


0:48:13.7 LB: Yes.


0:48:17.5 AV: Anyway, shoutout to the boys at Mead Cast.


0:48:19.8 LB: Nice.


0:48:20.4 AV: So hive theft happens across the country, but it all has its roots in California's almond groves. Thanks to the popularity of things like almond milk and nut butters, almonds have really come out of their shell. I'm just like, abounded this time. Deserves that... We're just going for it.




0:48:37.5 LB: So many. The pan bell is like getting worn out.


0:48:40.3 AV: I just wanna hear the bell. California produces 80% of the world's almonds.


0:48:45.3 LB: 80%?


0:48:46.3 AV: 80% of the world's almonds, okay?


0:48:50.1 LB: Wow!


0:48:51.0 AV: In 2019, they produced 2.5 billion almonds, which was worth $7.6 billion, 'cause almonds are expensive. [chuckle]


0:49:00.6 LB: Yeah, they are. [laughter] "This pouch is $10?"


0:49:05.8 AV: Right? "Oh, man, I'll salt my own. Thank you." Most of this is coming from over 1.4 million acres in California, Central Valley. Almonds are very labor-intensive for the growers, the pickers, and for the honey bee, our hero. Every one of those almond trees needs to be pollinated during a three-week window in February when they bloom. There aren't nearly enough honey bees in the Central Valley to do the job at all, and especially since they only grow one thing, aka, monoculture, aka, no biodiversity, so the bees don't wanna hang there 'cause there's nothing to eat. So in fact, pollinating almond trees during the almond season, it requires the work of 80% of all the honey bees in the country.


0:49:52.0 LB: Wow!


0:49:52.6 AV: Just to do the one crop in three weeks. So how do they do this? Beekeepers nationwide lease out their hives to almond growers and ship them to California in February. So that's why people, they pimp out their bees.




0:50:06.8 AV: They pimp their bees for the almond season.


0:50:10.4 LB: Well, forget this Airbnb side hustle stuff.




0:50:15.4 AV: Airbnb.




0:50:18.7 AV: But this process is really hard on the bees, you're like putting them on trucks and shipping them across the country, right?


0:50:23.3 LB: Yeah.


0:50:23.4 AV: According to BuzzFeed, each January, the sluggish bees are prodded into action much earlier than what would be their normal routine. They are fed substitutes for their natural foods of pollen and nectar so they will quickly repopulate the hive and be ready for almonds. They are then loaded onto trucks and shipped across the country, plucked in an empty field and fed more substitute food while they wait for the almonds to bloom. "We've had to bend the natural behavior of honey bees around almonds," said Charley Nye, who runs the bee research operation at University of California, Davis. Poor bees. And this is really risky because during transport, hives can be ruined, bees can die and then the bees can catch diseases from the other bees being pimped out, but almond pollination season is very, very lucrative for beekeepers. One hive alone can be rented out for $200 to $350.


0:51:19.6 LB: Oh, my gosh.


0:51:19.7 AV: In 2016, it accounted for about one-third of beekeepers' annual income.


0:51:25.3 LB: Wow! .


0:51:25.8 AV: But building a hive is labor-intensive, it's fraught with problems, there's always the risk of a colony collapse. So in response to this, people have started stealing beehives and then renting them out as their own.




0:51:45.5 AV: Scandalous.


0:51:45.6 LB: Are there no more good people in the world?


0:51:45.8 AV: Right?




0:51:49.6 AV: It's beekeeper on beekeeper crime.


0:51:51.5 LB: Oh.


0:51:51.5 AV: There are so many instances of this, Lia, it's crazy. In 2017, 700 hives worth about a million dollars were stolen in California alone, and in January and in February, just January and in February of 2019, 500 hives were stolen.


0:52:09.4 LB: Wow.


0:52:10.1 AV: I mean, just listen to some of these news clips.


0:52:13.6 S?: A beehive heist in Yolo County ended with an arrest outside of woodland, sheriff's detectives turned up more than 70 stolen Bee-boxes from six different beekeepers.


0:52:24.7 S?: And it's just...


0:52:24.8 S?: Beekeepers are turning to technology as beehives thefts are on the rise. About a thousand beehives worth hundreds of thousands of dollars have been reported stolen across California in the past few weeks.


0:52:35.1 S?: And we're told it's other beekeepers stealing the hives because it requires specialized equipment to take a hive, so some are using GPS tracking, security cameras and other anti-theft technology to keep their hives, safe.


0:52:48.2 S?: Yolo County Sheriff's Office arrested 35-year-old Justin Perdue on Tuesday after he was found with $18000 worth of stolen Bee-boxes with the rightful owners branding painted over.


0:53:02.0 S?: Gone were two 75-pound hives home to more than 30000 bees trying to survive the winter. All that was left, this empty pallet and two heartbroken beekeepers.


0:53:12.0 AV: This makes me so sad. It does, it makes me sad. So there are tricky things about the hive heists because they make them a little more challenging to solve.


0:53:19.9 AV: One is that they're always an inside job, because the only people who know how to handle the bees and hives are other beekeepers.


0:53:27.3 LB: Yeah. I was gonna say, you don't just randomly decide, You know what, I think I'm gonna go steal this hive 'cause you will get hurt.


0:53:35.1 AV: Yeah, like the ski mask isn't gonna do it.


0:53:37.7 LB: Right.


0:53:38.4 AV: You won't get far.




0:53:39.1 AV: You probably were your Yogi The Bear onesie, bees swarm you. It's a mess.


0:53:45.9 LB: Nobody told me I shouldn't be wearing my uggs while stealing a beehive.


0:53:49.8 AV: Who knew it was the uggs? Who knew?


0:53:53.1 LB: Uh-huh.


0:53:53.2 AV: But you got what you deserved. So it's usually someone from their own community who's doing this also, it's pretty hard to get a good look at hive thieves because they're all wearing beekeeper uniforms, [laughter] you're not gonna get a good look at their face.


0:54:06.7 LB: All the descriptions are the same as... Have you seen this person? It's just all the same.


0:54:14.9 AV: Plus, you can't put an air tag on bees, there's like thousands of bees, so how're you gonna tell those bees belong to a specific person, and even if keepers put their logo or distinguishing mark on their hive boxes, they're just made of wood and somebody can paint over them.


0:54:31.2 LB: Yeah.


0:54:31.5 AV: So it's really hard. Hive theft is now so common that there are counties with officers just dedicated to bee crimes. In California's Butte County Sheriff's office, they now have a dedicated bee theft detective. His name is Deputy Rowdy Freeman.


0:54:49.7 LB: No way!


0:54:51.5 AV: Yes.


0:54:51.7 LB: Really?


0:54:52.1 AV: Deputy Rowdy, here's...


0:54:52.8 LB: I love it.


0:54:56.3 AV: Here's Deputy Rowdy on vice News.




0:54:56.9 Rowdy: People who are stealing hives, they're driving around during the daytime looking for hives that are easily accessible and not marked, and then they come back at night under darkness in the early morning hours and load up the hives and drive away with them. It's a hard crime to detect because they look like they're the beekeeper that owns the hives moving their own hives.




0:55:22.3 AV: And if you wanna watch that whole video, you actually get to see Rowdy catch a thief. So that's pretty satisfying.


0:55:28.6 LB: Ooh Rowdy.


0:55:30.9 AV: Yeah. You also hear from a beekeeper victim whose name is obviously Buzz.


0:55:36.7 LB: No way.


0:55:36.8 AV: His name is Buzz.


0:55:37.5 LB: [chuckle] It's perfect. He was born to be a beekeeper.


0:55:40.7 AV: He was born... He had no choice. So if you see a beekeeper with some hives and they're running down the street, just leave them alone, like stand back and call the cops. They probably have a bee detective. Did you know that the NYPD has beekeepers?


0:55:55.5 LB: Do they?


0:55:57.6 AV: Yes.


0:55:58.5 LB: I didn't know that.


0:55:58.6 AV: Officer Darren May was like the resident NYPD beekeeper, because they have so much urban farming, bees get out, they get calls that there was one thing that bees had taken over the umbrella of a hot dog stand in Times Square, which is about the most New York thing I could possibly think of.


0:56:13.3 LB: I remember seeing pictures of this online, it looked scary AF.


0:56:17.8 AV: Yes.


0:56:18.9 LB: It covered like the umbrella.


0:56:19.5 AV: Yes, it covered the entire umbrella of the hot dog stand in New York City, so they called him. He's kept hives on the roof of his precinct and teaches everybody about beekeeping, and again, like we were saying, the beekeepers freaking love their bees, and they made him a patch. A special NYPD Bee patch. It's kind of bee flying over New York.


0:56:40.5 LB: I love it.


0:56:41.8 AV: And so he went out to his hot dog stand and he had built a safe bee vacuum, so he could vacuum up the Bees...


0:56:48.0 LB: He could retrieve them.


0:56:50.1 AV: In a way that wouldn't hurt them, and then it would like... The hose went into like a hive, and he could bring them to a safe location.


0:56:55.0 LB: Wow.


0:56:55.9 AV: Isn't that sweet?


0:56:57.7 LB: That is sweet. We gotta take care of bees because they are a special protected species.


0:57:02.4 AV: Absolutely, and so I wanna leave you all with some ways that we can all protect the bees.


0:57:08.1 LB: Okay.


0:57:09.4 AV: One, if you use pesticides or insecticides in your yard or on your plants, check to make sure that the brand you're using is bee safe. The ones that kill bees, I'm not gonna be able to pronounce this, but the ones that kill bees are called Neonico... No. Neonicotinoid. Neonicotinoid pesticides, aka, neonics, which fully sounds like something from The Matrix, but that's okay.


0:57:31.2 LB: Yeah.


0:57:32.4 AV: And actually Connecticut, Maryland and Vermont have all banned the sale of bee killing pesticides.


0:57:38.2 LB: Oh!


0:57:39.3 AV: Yeah, so that's great. Another thing that you can do is plant flowers, especially wild flowers, flowering trees, anything that's gonna produce nectar that the bees can snack on in your yard, in your flower boxes in your little planters, give 'em some to snack on. Right. And the last thing is, I don't know, maybe avoid almonds.




0:58:00.2 LB: Anna ruining food again.


0:58:01.4 AV: I'm sorry. [laughter] No. Okay, almonds aren't oysters. Alright, they're not gonna leave you to like Limb amputations or end up in an FDAs like short play.


[Callback Jingle]


0:58:14.5 AV: But there you go, honey laundering, hive heists and we gotta save the bees.


0:58:20.9 LB: We gotta save the bees, we need them.


0:58:21.6 AV: We need them.


0:58:21.7 LB: One out of what every three bites that we eat is because of bee.


0:58:26.4 AV: Save the bees enjoy your honey, but don't do drugs. Okay, don't end up like Winnie-the-Pooh.


0:58:31.7 LB: Oh my gosh, if you start to see a Heffalump call your doctor immediately. That honey was not honey.


0:58:40.6 AV: Talk about your adulteration, okay?


0:58:45.0 LB: Woo!




0:58:45.4 LB: Thank you for joining us for this episode of every day is a food day. Be sure to follow the show and catch up on past episodes wherever you get your podcast, connect with us on social media at @FoodDaypod, join our mailing list through our website, yumday.co/podcast, and don't forget to leave us that rating and review.


0:59:09.3 AV: The clips of music you heard today were from, "My Girl" from Columbia Pictures, The Many adventures of Winnie-The-Poo from Walt Disney Studios, "Sugar Sugar Candy Girl" by The Archies, "Flight of the bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov, The sound of music from 20th Century Fox Studios, Vogue, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, Good Day Sacramento, CBS, Los Angeles and CTV News, Ottawa.


0:59:32.1 LB: Every day is a food day is a production of Van Valin productions and YumDay. It is produced and hosted by us, Lia Ballentine and Anna Van Valin.


0:59:41.0 AV: See you next time.