Sunday, December 19, 2010

☆ What's Going On: Why Say No To HONEY ☆

This question has been on my mind for a while and I have been meaning to look more into it. I haven't been eating honey but without fully knowing why, just knowing that there is a reason it is a "No-no" for Vegans. So, for myself and for you; why we shouldn't eat honey...

Firstly, as a Vegan, my ethics are based on kindness and equality towards all living creatures. 
Veganism promotes these loving points; non-violence, non-stealing, and non-violent eating. Put simply, eating honey violates all of these. 

As a result of disease, pesticides, and climate changes, the honeybee population has been nearly decimated over the years, declining by as much as 50 percent since the 1980s. The demand for their honey and other products however remains high, so these tiny animals are factory-farmed, much like chickens, pigs, and cows are.

A bit about Bees...
Bees have unique and complex colonies consisting of different types of workers with very particular jobs. They, like most creatures, are complex beyond what we would like to believe. They have a complex central nervous system, which means they are able to experience pain and suffering.
"Studies have shown that bees are capable of abstract thinking as well as distinguishing their family members from other bees in the hive, using visual cues to map their travels, and finding a previously used food supply, even when their home has been moved. And much like smells can invoke powerful memories for humans, bees use their sense of smell to trigger memories of where the best food can be found." 

Violating Non-Stealing..
Most of us know that honey comes from beehives and therefor that it is the workplace and home of Bees and the honey they produce belongs to them. 
Beekeepers Steal their Honey. 
The honey they produce is intended to nourish bee offspring. And they produce just enough to feed their young. Instead, Beekeepers take it up from the hives and replace it with sugar water. This is not a nutritionally viable substitute for them, leaving the young bees susceptible to sickness and attack from other insects. When diseases are detected, beekeepers are advised to "destroy the colony and burn the equipment," which can mean burning or gassing the bees to death.

Honey is essentially "bee spit" or "bee vomit." Bees collect the nectar from flowers, swallow it, then regurgitate it. It is used as food stores in the hive during winter months when little or no nectar is available to them.

"One worker bee will produce about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in the course of her lifetime.”
So you can imagine how many suffering bees it took to give you that little bit of honey you're using in your tea, on your toast, or what have you. 

There are PLENTY of alternatives to honey so there is NO reason we should be stealing it from them.

Violating Non-Violence...
"At peak honey-production time in 2003, an estimated 155 billion bees, from 2.59 million colonies, were exploited in the U.S. to produce honey for human consumption."

In commercial beekeeping, the same unethical practices associated with farming factory come into play. Profiting from honey requires the manipulation and exploitation of the insects’ desire to live and protect their hive, leaving them to be victims of unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation, and stressful transportation.

"Swarming" (the division of the hive upon the birth of a new queen) is the natural reproductive activity of the colony. But it can cause a decline in honey production so (surprise!) beekeepers do what they can to prevent it, such as cutting off the wings of a new queen, or confining her if she is trying to start a swarm. This is also why the Queens are killed every six months (in nature they can live for as long as seven years) and replaced with virgin queens that are mass produced by specialist breeders. These virgin queens are artificially inseminated by sperm collected from crushed males. 

To get all that honey, beeswax, bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis and venom for human uses is not a painless process. Beekeepers regularly have to disturb the bees' homes to remove the honeycombs from the hive. When this is done some bees will inevitable be injured or crushed, and any bees who sting the beekeepers will also die.
Honey is usually taken from the hive in the spring and fall. In the fall is when beekeepers will replace their honey with that sugar water, or they will kill off the colonies to avoid maintaining the hives throughout the winter.

Messing with Nature...
To increase crop production, beekeepers often transport colonies to areas where crops are in flower so that the bees will pollinate them. However, the consequence of this is that it drives out the native pollinators, such as bats, birds, moths, butterflies, and other winged creatures. This creates a monoculture of pollinators that is subject to disease and death. Hence the recent alarming decline in honeybee populations in the U.S.

What's worse is that honeybees aren't as good pollinators as other pollinating creatures, but farmers continue to rely on factory-farmed honeybees for pollination instead so that the honey industry can continue to make 174 million pounds of honey every year, at a value of more than $157 million.

We are essentially messing with nature (as usual) without really knowing the full consequences of those actions. 

Beekeepers are also notorious for spreading disease. Because it has become increasingly difficult to find healthy honeybees, farmers will truck diseased colonies across the country to healthy colonies. But they fail to recognize or treat the disease, they purchase infected equipment, and they keep colonies too close together, and leave dead colonies in apiaries. 


Avoid honey, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, and other products that come from bees. There are soooooo many Vegan alternatives out there to choose from. You can find Vegan lip balms and beauty products Everywhere! Soy candles are readily available. Agave Nectar is my personal favorite to replace honey in food, you can also use rice syrup, molasses, sorghum, barley malt, maple syrup, or dried fruit or fruit concentrates.

See? There is no Good reason to be stealing Honeybees. You can try to justify it however you want but it doesn't change the fact that bees are suffering for human pleasures. I also can't ignore the environmental impacts. Bees are amazing and necessary creatures for Earth's survival and, once again, we are destroying their natural populations and trying to play God when we cannot predict our consequences for such actions. 

Be Earth-smart and be Animal-friendly! Yes, Bees are animals too! Practice Equality for All Living Creatures.  

Peace & Love,

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  1. Yay for Agave nectar! I love it so much, and I'm so glad you introduced me to it :)

  2. Thank you so much!! I always wondered if it was okay for Vegans to eat honey.. I had no idea that bees suffered too.


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