As a vegan, you do not eat any animal product, nor products that animals are used for. Honey is obviously an animal product because it is manufactured by bees.
Often we get the question what exactly is ‘wrong’ with consuming honey. In the context that no bees are actually killed for it. We also get the same question about eggs, although we may assume that it is now known that they are not very animal-friendly.
Anyway; what about honey? How is it made and what are the arguments for vegans to ignore this bee slurry? We hope to give the answer here.
Bees collect nectar from flowers and they make their honey from them. They vomit it, eat it again and vomit it again until it was partially digested. After the last vomit, they start fluttering their wings to cool the gruel and make it thicker. This is the final honey.
Argument 1 is, therefore, a matter of taste haha. It is, of course, a different kind of vomit than we know but nevertheless … tasty is different 😉
Bees make honey for themselves
When the honey is made, the bees store it in the cells of the hive. They use the honey as food and food reserves for scarcity. This applies at least in a natural environment and, of course, not when they live with beekeepers. Instead of their own honey, beekeeper give the bees sugar water to eat. In terms of composition, this sugar water can vary.
Often this sugar water is a combination of regular white sugar and water. Not in the least because it is cheap. Others use sugars such as glucose and fructose.
Honey is obviously not just sugar for the bees. The composition / nutritional value is vital for the bees. Just like cow’s milk is for a calf and mother’s milk for babies. Obviously, it can not be simply replaced artificially to the degree that is needed.
Although it seems that the bees can survive on sugar water in the first instance, the consequences in the longer term are incalculable. A really worthless and ill-considered composition of sugar water can have devastating consequences. Until the extinction of the entire hive population.
Without bees, we can not live
As they gather the flower nectar, the bees also suddenly cause the pollination of the plants. This is super important for life on earth. In fact, if there were no more bees from today, the world food supply could fall by 10% within 1 year. And that figure will increase annually with all its consequences.
You can literally state that bees are just as important to us as earth, water, and air. Without it, we are simply doomed as humanity. That is why the news coverage of the massive bee mortality is received with mild panic.
Isn’t it good that there are many beekeepers?
You would think, but the opposite is true. First of all, it should be noted that bees should be divided into 2 categories: the honey bee and the solitary (or wild) bee. The honeybees are of course the only important species for beekeepers, but the massive breeding of these will supplant the native solitary bee. Bumblebees are also in trouble because of the abundance of honeybees.
The problem is mainly that beekeepers place their hives in areas where a lot of pollen can be obtained. The honey bees then palm them in so wild bees stay hungry. The problem of mass extinction therefore does not only concern the honeybee. On the contrary.
The irony is that these wild bees have an important role in pollination. Much more than the honeybee.
Other causes of bee mortality
There are – apart from sugar water and the repression / ignoring of solitary bees – many other causes of bee mortality. One is more realistic to solve than the other but we put them at a glance:
GSM traffic / radiation
Bees have an excellent orientation because they have to find their nest (or their hive) again and again. The radiation that transmitting masts can, unfortunately, disturb their orientation capacity. Although we do not expect that we can take a step back, it is something to be reckoned with. Will undoubtedly be prosecuted.
Pesticides and the disappearance of natural flora
Pesticides speak for themselves. As a human being, we can tolerate a fair amount of pesticides (although sooner or later it will be avenged), but that does not apply to bees and other insects. No animal species that is so prone to contamination.
Unfortunately, the use of pesticides is still a common feature. And not only within the boundaries of agriculture, but unfortunately also in ‘garden maintenance’. Personally, we find it completely incomprehensible that so many people still sprinkle so much poison against ‘weeds’. It is the ground on which you walk, your dog or cat sniffing or digging and – godly – playing your children! Incomprehensible that people don’t want to see that.
It goes without saying that all these pesticides don’t work in favor of bees and other insects. Every drop of poison that ends up in the soil and later on flowers and plants is a disaster of scale.
The disappearance of natural bee-friendly flora is partly the result. These are the most important crops for bees that we massively exclude from our environment. Flowers are also genetically modified when they are grown in order to get the shape that we find more beautiful but where bees have nothing left. Because, for example, they can no longer get to the nectar (the opening is too small).
Therefore, make sure that there are bee-friendly flowers and plants in your garden and realize that the roadsides are not mown all the time, because that is the food for the wild bee. Inform yourself and do what is necessary for yourself and the bees. Because again; we can not live without them.
The Varroa mite
The varroa mite is a small – originally Asian – spider and is an important cause of bee mortality. The mite lays her eggs on the larvae of the bees and then clings to their ‘host’. They feed on the body fluids of bees, which make them weak and susceptible to viruses.
In their area of origin, the Varroa mite, strangely enough, has no demonstrable adverse consequences for bees. They also live on their host but without affecting the health of the bees. In our regions, however, the presence of the mite is harmful. And they occur in almost every hive!
Chemical agents are therefore used to combat the varroa mite. Where one ‘evil’ is thus fought against the other. Sometimes the beekeeper uses pesticides that also occur in nature. Whether that is actually better, however, is also doubtful.
The most decisive argument for leaving honey in the future is, by the way, ‘just’ on the Dutch Wikipedia. And these two sentences about the Varroa mite (translated):
“The main method of distribution is done by the beekeeper himself: by exchanging contaminated combs, flying off, trading and importing bee colonies and queens.”
“And there is varroa control by the bees themselves. Honey bees that do not live in hives but in the wild in tree cavities (and therefore do not get varroa control) do not go down on varroa mites. “
We think that’s more than enough evidence, right?
And finally the last argument:
Torture of the queen
In a natural environment, the queen of a bee population will determine where the swarm settles. Since the beekeeper does not want this colony to reside elsewhere than in his / her hive, the queen’s wings are often cut.
If the beekeeper wants to “harvest” the honey, bees will be injured or killed. Even though the beekeeper is very careful. Not only the honey is taken, but also beeswax, bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly
A colony is sometimes also split to increase production. Which is not exactly natural for a bee population.
So we can easily decide that we should leave bee populations untouched as much as possible. And that also applies to their diet. Whether or not honey is healthy (it also remains sugars) is not even more relevant. It is healthy for bees, we humans have no good reason to consume it. On the contrary.
Documentary Rotten about honey
I saw the documentary Rotten about honey. The content was not quite what I expected. It was more about corruption. My review of the documentary, in a bit of faulty English 😉
Do you know more about why not to eat honey or the honey industry, let me know in the comments below.