BRUCE, SD -- At his farm in the small town of Bruce, South Dakota Richard Adee is long way from world of international smuggling, Homeland Security and Interpol, but it's a part of his life, and not by choice.
Adee and his sons own one of the largest honey operations in the country, and to a small and greedy group of international traders, the honey has become a form of liquid gold.
Cheaply produced in China, it can be sold for enormous profit in the United States if they can get it by U.S. Customs without being caught.
Much to the frustration of Adee and other honey producers, scheme after scheme has made that possible.
As you see him working with bees you might be wondering why they aren't attacking the 78 year old as he takes apart these hives. Richard uses a little smoke and, well no mirrors just good old smoke. It puts bees in survival mode.
Instinct tells them a fire is coming, instead of attacking Richard; they gorge themselves with honey and prepare to move the hive.
Adee and other American honey producers have been in survival mode, fighting a mystery bee killer called Colony Collapse Disorder, and a smoke screen of illegally imported honey.
The "honey laundering" schemes surreptitiously bring in millions of pounds of Chinese honey, which flood the market and drive down prices American producers get for their product from honey packers.
“I guess the most frustrating thing is the packer will tell you I can get this honey from someplace else for 25 cents a pound cheaper and we know that it's circumvented honey, we know its not legitimate honey, and yet we have to compete against it and that’s what is most frustrating”, said Adee.
Here's how it works... China, the world's largest honey producer, can't import to the U.S. without paying high tariffs meant to protect American bee keepers.
So someone in Germany had an idea, buy Chinese honey, send it to say India, slap a sticker on it, and ship it to the US. India doesn't have a tariff, so cheap Chinese honey pours into the U.S.