13 Comments

  1. Not all beekeepers are unethical. It is extreme to expect all beekeepers to mistreat their bees. If you expect all beekeepers to be the worst beekeepers, then extreme Veganism is an extremist religion and is no different to ISIS.

    Honey is definitely vegan if ethics are adhered to. Do not sugar feed. Do not almond pollinate (Almonds are 100% not vegan). Do not wing clip. Do not extract more than excess honey. Do not extract over winter. Remove Pests and Diseases. Provide a safe and clean environment for the honeybees to live. It is far better on the environment if honeybees (not native) are not allowed into the wild to dominate and starve native bees.

    Source honey from a ethical beekeeper to ensure the honey is vegan friendly. Honey can be vegan, but you must make the effort to ensure the beekeeper is using ethical practices.

    Also, some incorrect information on this article: Bees only protect their brood (larvae). They will abandon honey if the hive is full. If there is no brood, they won’t kill themselves to protect it. Genetic selection isn’t to increase honey production but to decrease aggressive behaviours. Ironically, aggressive bees produce far more honey than gentle bees.

    1. Hi Mark, I hope after reading the other comments on this post you can attest that our stance is not black and white on the ethics of beekeeping. Like wool, silk and other ethical concerns, there’s an inherent sliding scale of ethics depending on the supplier of these goods. So like wool production, you can find examples of ethically made honey; however, the majority of honey supplied uses unethical practices.

      Even so-called “ethical” beekeepers are not entirely ethical, in terms of ticking the boxes you mentioned. The challenge for consumers is finding suppliers that they know for sure have ethical practices. Our position is, if it’s indeed challenging to find the good from the bad in a very grey area, there are alternatives. In any case, we appreciate your experience and perspective with us.

    2. “then extreme Veganism is an extremist religion and is no different to ISIS”

      I’m sorry, what? Do you even understand the words you used in this sentence, especially “veganism”, “religion” and “ISIS”?

      Veganism is not a religion, and ISIS is not a religion either. You might want to stick to bee facts and not blurt out incredibly stupid sentences like this one. Wow.

  2. I just love this piece too about bees. Bees are very intelligent and know me from others because I have fed them. They literally know my vehicle when I pull in fly through the window to be fed. What’s happening to them everyone needs to know. I just looked up Paul S again as he has found a way to help them.
    https://fungi.com/pages/bees
    The marriage between Monsanto and bayer is one of the worst things to happen to our earth and her inhabitants.

  3. Such an informative article. As I read I kept comparing it to the popular narrative that “bees are dying and we don’t know why” when in reality there are many reasons many of which can be attributed to the callous and dangerous practices of commercial agriculture. Having kept bees as a hobby in the past- I did extensive research on whether to keep the honey or not. And I think ultimately you have to be responsible and do what’s best for your hive. If your hive is flourishing and you don’t live somewhere with harsh winters it may be okay to collect honey. I don’t think that backyard bee keepers collecting honey is having any profound impact on the current state of bees and if anything is beneficial to the species and the surrounding ecosystems.

    1. Thank you for sharing Ella. I agree you have to do what’s best for your hive and the bees. But I do worry about the fact that collecting the honey still enters you into a relationship with the bees where they are being taken advantage of for our gain. It’s more of a mindset thing.
      I also agree that backyard beekeeping doesn’t have a profound impact on the overall industry of beekeeping, yet. My concern there is that the types of bees that are kept and how those bees come to the backyard beekeeper. If they are rescued from commercial beekeepers or have a local species that help the ecosystem, that’s fine. But if they are bred (the bees that are not normally found in that area) and artificially inseminated queen bees for the purposed of “keeping bees”, then I don’t think it’s a healthy practice for more people to get into.
      It’s the same idea as the backyard chickens. Where did the chickens come from? Someone that is benefiting from selling them or are they being rescued from cage farms or are chickens that would have been slaughtered otherwise (e.g. male chicks). Something to consider.

  4. Hi, I’m not agree. The honey is very helpful for human health and one of the best food. Of course if it’s made ethical.

    1. Thanks for your comment Verginia.
      I do agree that it has many health benefits, but if we can use other alternatives that don’t exploit bees, then why not use them? I understand that there can be more “ethical’ ways to make honey, but in the end, they are still used for our own personal gain. Not for theirs. Bees make honey for themselves, not for us.

  5. Thanks for the post Masa. Unfortunately what you have said about large scale beekeeping operations and mass produced honey is correct.
    However, I should mention feeding sugar water sometimes is necessary as an emergency feed to keep the hive alive if they were not able to produce enough honey. This can happen if the spring was too wet or if there is a sudden cold snap.
    I also feel I should mention the spread of the varroa mite has put a huge stress on bee populations. The viruses spread by varroa mites and pesticides are likely responsible for CCD. Ironically, the largest hives have the most mites and bigger hives are more profitable to commercial beekeepers. So these large scale operations are partially responsible for the continued spread of the varroa mite. Unfortunately the only response they have is to treat with stronger miticides, which cause the mites to become resistant in a few generations. Commercial beekeeping is even more damaging and exploitative than what you mentioned here, unfortunately.
    I still believe backyard beekeeping can be done ethically because as a hobby there is no profit motive. If you feel uncomfortable taking honey, you dont have to. You can just let them pollinate your neighborhood. Top bar hives or ‘bee gums’ are ideal because they resemble a hollowed log which is where bees would make their hive in the wild. I’m just speaking from my own experiences with beekeeping. I hope this was informative.

    1. Thanks for sharing Dominic.
      I knew about the feeding of sugar water to bees in times of need but forgot to mention it in the post, so thank you for adding that in. We have left out sugar water in our backyard in the middle of the summer for them to hydrate and feed at the same time as when you live in a rented property; you don’t have bee-friendly plants around to help them.
      In my research, I did come across the mites but didn’t think it was a relevant topic to bring up, but it is a sad fact. Some interesting facts there, sounds like a vicious cycle that the commercial beekeeping industry has themselves in!
      I also believe it can be done ethically if they are left to their own devices. Even if they aren’t being exploited for the profit, they would be for what they make – it still enters into a relationship that makes us benefit from their hard work. Honey is an amazing thing, but I still believe it’s not designed for us, but the bees.
      I’ll have to do a bit more research into the type of hive you mentioned, sounds like a great solution to have if you want to create a proper bee sanctuary in your own space.
      Thanks again for sharing, as always 🙂

      1. Thank you for an informative article! I think the mites are actually very relevant, because their spread to North America and Europe is one of the reasons why the honeybee is highly unlikely to survive in any significant numbers without human intervention. If left to their own devices, without miticides and treatment, a colony would quite quickly become overrun with mites and collapse as a result of the diseases they spread.
        The problem is that Apis melliflera, or the western/European honeybee, is not adapted to dealing with the varroa mite at all. The mites were spread from an Asian species of honeybee (Apis cerana), which has evolved various methods of dealing with the mites. Interestingly, a lot of these adaptations make them unsuitable for commercial honey production…
        It might be that over time Apis melliflera would develop similar resistance, but evolution is a very slow process indeed.
        Also, on the honeybee hotels I would strongly recommend that people line the drilled holes with some sort of removable paper or otherwise clean them on a yearly basis. Without this, these solitary bee homes can also become overrun with mites, and kill the developing larvae before they ever get a chance to emerge. Also, these holes must be at least 6″ long/deep – many species of bee will only lay female eggs if the holes is deep enough, and otherwise will fill the hole with male bee eggs.

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