16 oz of honey requires 1152 bees to travel 112,000 miles and visit 4.5 million flowers.
Most of the honey we get at supermarkets and stores don’t come from natural hives.
Honey is an animal product, produced when bees digest nectar they have collected and then regurgitate it. It is an animal product, just like an egg or milk. Yes, a bee is an insect and not technically considered an animal by many people, but a bee’s body changes the composition of what it ingests, just like other animals.
However, there is another reason vegans won’t eat honey, and that is because it is harmful to another living creature. According to Daniel Hammer, bees do experience pain and suffering while they are being exploited for their products (not just honey but also beeswax, royal jelly, and more). There is simply no way beekeepers, humane or otherwise, can avoid harming or killing bees while they are extracting the bees’ products. Many vegans choose their lifestyle because they wish to avoid harming any other creature, and so they choose not to eat honey.
Check out this couple of articles that are pretty complete about everything around this topic 🙂
As a beekeeper, let me say the following.
As a vegan, you depend upon beekeeping. It doesn’t matter if you never use beeswax or eat honey. You still depend on beekeeping. It is absolutely impossible not to.
Because here’s the secret; you know all those delicious fruits and vegetables you eat? You wouldn’t have them if it wasn’t for bees, and here’s another secret; those bees were probably either kept by the farmer who grew them for the purpose of pollinating his/her crops, or moved to the farm during pollination season by a beekeeper.
If you’ve ever eaten a cherry, almond, blueberry, tomato, melon, squash, raspberry, strawberry…hell, most fruits or veggies…you’ve benefited from beekeeping. There is simply no way to avoid it. If you leave it up to whatever pollinators happen to stop in from the surrounding area, your yields will suffer dramatically, which means less produce and less money for the farmer. Therefore, the easy and universally preferred method is to plop a few hives on the property. The girls will make sure that just about every last almond/cherry/blueberry flower is pollinated (They’re VERY good at what they do) and you can happily harvest a bumper crop. This is a universally used practice among food producers.
And do you know the best way to help make sure the bees survive?
Keep them. Organically, without using any chemicals. And here’s a secret about beekeeping; you inspect the hives whether or not you take honey, to make sure the bees are healthy and doing well. (There are mites and diseases that can severely harm bees, and even as an organic beekeeper who doesn’t use chemicals on her girls there are methods I use to prevent/treat things like varroa mite infestation that can kill an otherwise healthy hive).
And yes, when you open a hive to inspect it, you might crush one or two bees. But tell me, honestly, that you’ve never killed an insect. Bees themselves will kill sick/non productive members of the hive to ensure the health of the hive as a whole; I don’t see how my accidentally squishing one to ensure the health of the other 50,000 is any different.
And this is what all beekeepers do. And if you, as before mentioned, ever eat anything that isn’t grain-based, this is what took place to put that food on your plate.
I would also like to point out that bees will store as much honey as they possibly can…which usually ends up being waaaaay more than they actually can use. To survive a log Iowa winter, my bees need about 100 lbs of honey per hive. Well, last year one hive had TWICE that. (I took 50 pounds, leaving them MORE than enough to get through the winter. I just checked on them today; they’re alive and healthy).
You are NOT hurting them by taking a little honey for yourself, no more than you already are by looking in on them every two or three weeks to make sure they’re healthy.
And again, if you ever eat any fruits or veggies, SOMEONE IS ALREADY KEEPING BEES TO POLLINATE THEM AND INSPECTING THEM TO MAKE SURE THEY’RE HAPPY AND HEALTHY.
KEEPING BEES IS NOT WHAT IS KILLING BEES IT IS WHAT IS SAVING BEES.
WITHOUT BEES YOUR VEGAN DIET IS IMPOSSIBLE.
WITHOUT THAT “EVIL” EXPLOITATION OF BEES YOUR VEGAN DIET IS IMPOSSIBLE.
AGAIN, BEEKEEPING IS WHAT IS SAVING BEES NOT KILLING THEM.
SO IF YOU EAT A LITTLE HONEY IT IS HONESTLY NO WORSE THAN EATING SOME ALMONDS AND FRUIT SALAD.
Why can’t bees be protected without taking the honey they produce? I’m all for their protection and I didn’t born yesterday, I know that without bees we all gonna die, but why is it mandatory to steal their honey?
Yeah, that made no sense… You can keep bees without stealing from them. You can keep horses without riding them. You can keep dogs without abusing them. Do people really not get this?
Again, you don’t seem to be getting this.
Yes. You can keep bees without taking honey from them. But, as I said before, you’re ALREADY in the hive checking for diseases and pests. That, if anything, is what causes bees stress, not you taking a frame or two of honey (each frame of honey can hold 15 pounds!).
Also, there’s a REASON you take honey from bees, not just because you want to eat it.
See, like I said before, bees will store as much honey as they can. It’s instinctive. However, there’s only so much room in a hive to put stuff, and honey isn’t the only thing in a hive. They also need room to raise brood, store pollen, ect. Now, if they run out of room, they’ll start feeling overcrowded, which will trigger swarming activity. You can, of course, add more supers (boxes) to the hive, but there’s a limit on how many workers one queen can produce, and you don’t want more supers than they can police, even if all of them are stuffed full of honey. That way lies pests and raiding. So, what we want to do is make sure that they don’t feel overcrowded, while making sure that they don’t have more room than they can take care of.
When bees feel overcrowded, they swarm. When they swarm, they raise a new queen. The old queen and half the bees will then leave to try and find someplace to start a new hive. 90% of swarms die. As a beekeeper, you don’t want this.
You can, of course, purposefully let them start raising a new queen and then split a new hive off of the old one if you want to. I’ve done this myself. But this is not always desirable, for many reasons (no more room for more hives, can’t take care of more, don’t have a spare hive body on hand, ect.) There’s also the fact that a recently swarmed hive is susceptible to raiding by wasps/skunks (skunks LOVE to raid hives, the little bastards) or mice, as half the bees that would have defended it before are now gone. You don’t want this either; raiding can kill a hive as quick as disease or pests. (This is why I keep a VERY close eye on any hives that I’ve recently split, and have taken potshots at skunks in the backyard with a slingshot before. Not to kill them, just to scare them off.)
If you don’t want them to swarm, the easiest way to keep them from feeling cramped and give them a little new breathing room is to pull a few surplus honey frames they’ve filled up and replace them with empty frames. The girls will then happily go back to work filling the new empty frames with honey or brood or whatever they decide needs to go in all that new space. They don’t feel crowded any longer, the hive doesn’t swarm and stays strong, everyone’s happy.
And what, then, am I supposed to do with these three frames of honey I pulled? Throw them away? Hell no. That’s 30-40 pounds of delicious, right there.
Humans and bees have what’s called a symbiotic relationship. We both benefit from the arrangement. Don’t diss things if you don’t understand how they work.
And, one more time…keeping bees is necessary for your vegan diet to remain viable. A beekeeper is going to inspect all of those hives anyway, which is the most stressful part of beekeeping for the bees. You are, with your eating habits, (and by that I mean ‘really just eating’, because there’s NO diet that doesn’t rely on beekeeping) reliant on this practice. Taking a frame or two of honey is the LEAST stressful part of inspecting a hive for the bees.
Source; have kept bees organically for 10 years, help other hobbyists in the area who want to start keeping bees. Garden organically. Generally Actually Know Where My Food Comes From And What It Takes To Get It On My Plate.
I understand some people want to be kind and compassionate. But there’s such a thing as being ignorantly compassionate, to the point where you forget how to do research, apparently.
I live for these defences of honey tbh
and the comments that give insight into beekeeping just make it better <3
bolding for emphasis:
“Humans and bees have what’s called a symbiotic relationship. We both
benefit from the arrangement. Don’t diss things if you don’t understand
how they work.”