PODCASTEnvironmentally Speaking EP 81: A Young Beekeeper’s Breakthrough Discovery!

May 25, 20230

Transcript: A Young Beekeeper’s Breakthrough Discovery!

CLARICE:  Hello, everybody.  And welcome to this week’s episode of Environmentally Speaking.MARISA:  Did you just forget the name of the podcast?

CLARICE:  I almost said our last edition of Mercury in the microwave.

MARISA:  Oh, that one’s good.  Hi, everyone.  I’m Marisa Desautel.  I’m an environmental attorney.

CLARICE:  And I am just getting by, Clarice Parsons.

MARISA:  It’s been a long week.  We are recording a day earlier than we usually do.


MARISA:  So you guys are capturing us on a Thursday and we are in the thick of, I’d say, a good long stretch of work mania.


MARISA:  There’s a lot going on.  There’s a lot to do.  The workload is huge and not enough hours in the day.

CLARICE:  Yes.  But we made a decision that with the full workload and with the past two episodes being related to bilge dumping and shit spilling we’re going to bring you good news.

MARISA:  Did you just say shit?


MARISA:  Okay.  I didn’t know we were allowed.

CLARICE:  This episode gets a big E next to it.  We are officially explicit.  Whoo.

MARISA:  So what’s the good news today?

CLARICE:  If you have little ears listening —

MARISA:  Earmuffs.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  Earmuffs.  We are talking about this incredible young researcher, this very young scientists.  She is 13 years old, Rory Hu.  I hope I’m pronouncing her last name correctly.  It’s H-u.  Thirteen years old, for a science fair project — and I’m not talking your like average middle school cafeteria science fair project.  This was a national science fair project — researched and came across a discovery to help bees who are suffering from — and, Marisa, help me out with this — a memory-related issue that comes from being exposed to pesticides.

I’m shocked.  I’m excited.  In my house we’ve been talking about bees all week because we spent all of Sunday out in the garden.  Our yard is full of dandelions and we wanted to get rid of our dandelions without filling our yard with things that were going to harm the bees.  We bought a bunch of plants that were going to encourage the bees knowing that we weren’t going to have dandelions and that brought up this story.  But just such a cool discovery.  I love this.

MARISA:  I like that you asked me to help you out with some technical aspect of this story as though I have the brain capacity to match how smart this 13-year-old girl is.  I’m — no.  No.  What I can do, though, is fill in with some more details.  She is a local beekeeper from San Jose, California and it seems to be that she, in her beekeeping career, came across information that hopefully the rest of us have heard about, that bees are suffering as a result of pesticide application on lawns and other golf courses and other types of locations.  While the rest of us hear this news and pour a glass of wine to try to find some joy, she said, I’m going to come up with a solution.  And she did.

[0:03:55] CLARICE:  It’s just mind-blowing.

MARISA:  It’s amazing.  How did she do it?

CLARICE:  It’s insane.  It took me a minute to find it.  So I was looking for the term.  There is a term called colony collapse disorder.  And just very rudimentary understanding —

MARISA:  I think I have that.  I think I have colony collapse disorder.

CLARICE:  We’re suffering from it together.

MARISA:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  From my understanding of it, when the bees are exposed to these pesticides it ruins or damages parts of their short-term memory and their ability to collect pollen, so they struggle with actually their main function about getting and spreading pollen and they have a hard time getting back to their hive.  They forget how to return home and thus the colony collapses —

MARISA:  That’s so sad.

CLARICE:  — because nobody’s going back home which is just heartbreaking and so sad.  So the colony can’t function because nobody’s returning back to the hive.  And she saw this problem and I don’t know how she made this leap, how she had this connection, but she thought that caffeine and a food supplement called tea poly —

MARISA:  Phenol.

CLARICE:  — polyphenol — thank you —

MARISA:  Polyphenol.

CLARICE:  — was going to help the bees.  I would have never thought of that.  I would have done what you did.  I would have poured wine and said, oh, my God, the poor bees, do we put the hive on wheels.  I don’t know.  This 13-year-old girl is like, let’s try it.  So she came up with this experiment of creating artificial flowers that contained these two ingredients, the caffeine and the tea polyphenol to see if it would help counteract and reduce the effects of the pesticides and it worked.

MARISA:  Polyphenols are known as reducing agents.  They work to protect the body’s tissues against oxidative stress and associated pathologies such as cancers, coronary heart disease, and inflammation and that’s just speaking about what those compounds do for the human body.  I’m not familiar with bee morphology, but I would assume that it must have a similar effect on the bees.

CLARICE:  How did she — amazing.  It’s so amazing.

MARISA:  And caffeine, that was the other —


MARISA:  — material she used?


MARISA:  She created artificial flowers tinged with caffeine and polyphenol.  I wonder what the caffeine does.

[0:06:52] CLARICE:  From my understanding caffeine is often used to — and I don’t know what the effects are on bees, but I know in humans it often opens blood vessels to allow other medications to better go through your bloodstream.  A lot of folks who suffer from migraines, oftentimes their medications will have caffeine in it to allow that other medication to just kind of move through quicker.  So if you have a migraine, sometimes people will have coffee, or sometimes that can be helpful.  Like if you skip your morning coffee your head might hurt, things like that.

MARISA:  Yeah.  Okay.

CLARICE:  So her seventh grade science experiment which is saving the bees, she won the Department of Defense STEM Talent Award which won her $10,000.  And I’m not sure if this is the same award program or a different fair, but she also won the Broadcom Masters Award.  And it looks like she’s still moving through this science program, so this project is ongoing and she’s taking it around to different groups which is really exciting.

MARISA:  I’m thinking about and wondering if there will be, no pun intended, an application available to the mainstream.

CLARICE:  I hope so.

MARISA:  I’m sure you could throw caffeine and stuff into a cup and put it outside and see how that goes, but it would be wonderful to see the pesticide industry partner with her and come up with a solution that can be distributed in the country, in the world.  Wow.  That’s remarkable.  I’m so glad you shared this story.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  How amazing.  I instantly thought is there — I’m hoping it does progress and does become something that’s widely spreadable and easily accessible.  Is this something.  I don’t know how it’s being — how her experiment — you know, like was it in a tincture, was it in a cup and like a liquid form.  Can this be a powder.  Can people and commercial gardeners kind of put this powder on plants.  You know, is this something that we can kind of spread around.  I hope it continues.  I hope this has long-term effects.  But, I mean, for a seventh grader I hope she goes on to do so many other things and this is just like the beginning of her momentum.

MARISA:  Yeah.  And I — not recording a podcast or anything here, Rick.  That’s great.  Thanks.

CLARICE:  For those who are watching on YouTube, we have a special guest that came by.

[0:09:55] MARISA:  So the other thing that I’m reading about here, no joke, the article on hell flying because I’m real interested in polyphenols now, guess what good sources of that compound are.

CLARICE:  I’m going to guess either — you said it had a relation to cancer protection?

MARISA:  Yeah.

CLARICE:  Mushrooms.


CLARICE:  Spinach.


CLARICE:  I give up.

MARISA:  Come on.  Red wine.  Red wine.



CLARICE:  We can celebrate.

MARISA:  Yes.  We were doing something well.


MARISA:  Yeah.  Red wine, dark chocolate, tea, and berries are some of the best —

CLARICE:  Oh, heck, yeah.

MARISA:  — main sources of polyphenol.  Go ahead and have that glass of wine tonight, girl.

CLARICE:  I love it.  All right.  [inaudible] Rory.  So, yeah, some good news.  This is exciting stuff.

MARISA:  It really is.  I’m going to share.  I know that you sent this story to me on Instagram, so I’m going to share that on my Instagram story today.

CLARICE:  I’m going to do the same.

MARISA:  Congratulations, Rory —

CLARICE:  Love it.  Yeah.

MARISA:  — if you’re listening.


MARISA:  I’m sure you’re not.

CLARICE:  For those of you who are —

MARISA:  That was really arrogant.

CLARICE:  And for those of you who are looking to — this is the time of year when we’re all outside gardening and doing that sort of stuff.  When you’re looking at weed killers, do take a minute to read, you know, the back of the bottle, see what the effects are.  Some of them not only kill the weeds but can also kill certain insects, can have negative effects on other creatures who might eat those weeds, so think about it a little bit.  Be careful in which products you’re choosing..

MARISA:  Agreed.

CLARICE:  I mean, make your choice however you want.  I’m not telling you which specific brands to buy.  We’re not sponsored by anybody, but read up on it.  And I’m going to leave you with a weird fact of the day.  Marisa, I did not tell you about this, but have you heard of the fish doorbell?


CLARICE:  Researcher Pete has found in Norway there is a fish doorbell.  There’s a canal in Norway that has a — oh, yeah.  This canal, from my understanding there are fish that swim through the canal every spring for mating season, but the canal is obviously blocked off and as a result the fish are unable to make that —

MARISA:  Get through?

CLARICE:  Yeah:  Make that mating journey.  So what they’ve done —

MARISA:  They’re ringing a freaking doorbell?

CLARICE:  No.  They’ve set up a livestream camera.  Oh.  Oh.  There’s a fish.  There’s a fish just now.

[0:13:04] MARISA:  All right.  What’s the website?  I got to check it out.

CLARICE:  I am putting it in the show notes.  Oh, that’s wild.  So you can watch the livestream camera which is in the bottom of the river and when you see a fish you ring the doorbell.  The doorbell goes to somebody in some sort of tower monitoring the canal and when they hear the doorbell with they press open the gate and let the fish through.

MARISA:  You’re got to be freaking kidding me.

CLARICE:  I am not kidding you.  They have crowdsourced monitoring the gate and people volunteer to watch it.

MARISA:  Why are we not doing this?  Why are we not doing this everywhere?

CLARICE:  I am right now.  I just let a fish in.

MARISA:  No, I mean, America.

CLARICE:  That could not be better timed.

MARISA:  Did you just let the fish in, you personally?

CLARICE:  I just rang the bell.

MARISA:  Did you ring the doorbell?  Oh, God.

CLARICE:  It might not have been me who did it first, but me and 294 people around the world are watching the canal, so, guys —

MARISA:  You got to give me the website.  I can’t wait for the meeting notes.  What’s the website?

CLARICE:  I can’t pronounce it.

MARISA:  All right.

CLARICE:  It is certainly not in English.

MARISA:  I’ll look it up.

CLARICE:  But we’re going to put it in the show notes.

MARISA:  Okay.  Wow.  That’s two amazing things today.

CLARICE:  I can’t believe —

MARISA:  Let’s hang up here before things are ruined.

CLARICE:  Yeah.  All right.  Folks, you need to write in, comment, and let us know did you see a fish and the fish doorbell.

MARISA:  This is amazing.

CLARICE:  So exciting.

MARISA:  That’s amazing.

CLARICE:  Reach out to us at Help@DesautelESQ.com.  Hit us up on the socials at Desautel Browning Law, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.  You can watch our videos on YouTube.  Shout-out to researcher Pete.  We saw a fish.  That one goes out to him.

MARISA:  Oh, I’m on the fish doorbell website.  It’s murky.

CLARICE:  How exciting.  It is.

MARISA:  There’s a big red button that you can —

CLARICE:  Yes.  That’s the doorbell.

MARISA:  That’s amazing.  275 people are watching the livestream.

CLARICE:  I’m the fifth.

MARISA:  I’m so excited.  I can’t wait to hit the doorbell.  All right.  Thanks, Clarice.

CLARICE:  All right.  Happy watching.


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