Is Honey Vegan The Definitive Guide

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. There are more than one kind of bee that produce honey, in my country, (sweden) we have two. The normal honeybee is the most common but we also have “nordbiet” “the northbee ” that is endangered, and there is an organisation to help preserve it.. secondly, I believe that bees are intelligent and that non verbal communication is possible, and hence some sort of ” concent” can be accieved. The beekeeper provides the hive, aswell as water and flowers and in return take some of the honey. If the bees dont like it, they can move… (wich sometimes happens). I am not vegan, but I would not critiqe anyone that called honey ” vegan” since I dont think bees are explioted under these circomstances. / Liv

  2. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being vegan and eating honey. I know some people might disagree with me, but that’s okay. I respect their opinions. I just don’t think honey is an animal product. I think honey is a great source of energy and it’s very tasty. I’m not saying that everyone should start eating honey, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it if you are already. I just research where I get my honey, so I’m confident that the bees are well cared for. This has been my favorite for a while now and again I just wanted to share my thoughts on this subject.

  3. To tell the truth, I am so glad that I came across your article because it was the best opportunity to expand my knowledge about bees and different subtleties connected with them. I can say that before this moment I had an absolutely different idea about a lot of things and you blew my mind by some facts. After reading your article, I came to the conclusion that bees are huge workers and we can’t even imagine what efforts they need to make in order to make honey, but people really often simply underestimate it. It is so sad that bees are exploited and mistreated for profit because they perform such a significant function in our world and we need to keep them safe. Unfortunately, now it is difficult to deny that honey is not vegan because there were given so many arguments and indications in your article. Of course, it is important to take all necessary measures in order to change the current situation and provide bees with support. I think that only through joint efforts can we achieve results.

  4. Carol Broll says:

    I was blown away by your article. I learned so much about bees and the complexity of the honey-making process and how hard bees have to work to make it. I was just as impressed by your in-depth analysis of the ethical/moral issues. They were presented in a fair, non-biased and empirical way. I have been vegan for 22 years and stopped eating honey about 10 years ago. I gave up honey because of the general principle of respecting other species and not making the assumption that I have the right to take something belonging to them; but now thanks to your article I know so much more about why this was the correct way to go. I will share your article with my son who is a champion of bees’ rights. Thank you so much for this article; I wish I had your ability to present my thoughts in such a clear and academic manner!

    1. Hi Carol, I’m glad you enjoyed the read.

      22 years vegan is impressive! Reading how well you articulate your words, I’m sure you could present an objective argument 🙂

      Good luck with your son. Either way, his heart is in the right place.

  5. Thanks for an informative and well-researched article. It’s interesting how much pushback this topic gets. Mine isn’t the busiest blog at all and yet my honey post has received plenty of comments (mostly against).

    I’m going to link to your article as mine isn’t nearly as in-depth. I basically said it’s stealing. Lol. 🙂

    1. Hi Angela, thanks for linking and for taking the time to comment.

      And you’re right. The ethics of beekeeping pushes people’s buttons.

      I’d love to hear how you go with the urban beekeeper on the property you’re staying at.

  6. 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.

      1. Great read! I learned a lot. I do have to add that many vegans, including myself, don’t avoid the exploitation of ANIMALS but of SENTIENT beings. This distinction is important because if having animal status makes a being worthy of respect, why not extend this to plants? What sets different living things apart is their sentience and capacity for suffering. The sentience of insects is contested. While we can observe their reactions, we cannot be sure if they are really suffering or not. This is my main issue with the vegan honey debate. I would love to see more people discuss it and hear others’ thoughts!

    3. Peter Price says:

      If exploitation of bees is a vegan issue how do you justify eating plants the bees polinate all edible plants and by growing your own veg or buying plants from non natural suppliers you are exploiting the bees anyway 🤣

      1. J. Val B. says:

        Organic symbiosis and exploitation are two very different things… what you described would be the former as opposed to the use of constraint

      2. Veronique Castel says:

        Did you read the entire article? Bees are not the only insect that pollinate our food. They are regarded as the most important and worthy of mentioning because humans also use bees/beekeeping to profit from their honey. Other insects (and even hummingbirds) also pollinate food.

    4. Veronique Castel says:

      Honey is not a vegan product in the least. Vegan means of non animal origin or derivative. And we know for a fact that bees make honey for themselves and their larvae, not for humans to consume. Saying that honey is vegan is like saying that cow’s milk is vegan, whereas like with honey, cow’s make it for their young. How is all this hard to understand?

  7. 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.
    The marriage between Monsanto and bayer is one of the worst things to happen to our earth and her inhabitants.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    2. Veronique Castel says:

      Bees make honey for themselves and their larvae, not for humans to steal and consume. It’s as simple as that. Honey is not for human use. Bees make it for themselves and need it for their survival. Humans do not require honey for survival.

  10. 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.

        1. Hi Paulina, thanks for sharing this with us. We didn’t know about the massive impact of mites on bees. Interesting stuff.

        2. Verdantis. says:

          Wow! I read a lot about bees but I did not know about the depth effecting whether the larvae will be male or female. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

          1. “We shouldn’t focus our attention on stopping the consumption of foods pollinated by bees—as this happens naturally.”

            As you point out, many crops have far, far lower productivity without the use of commercial contract bee pollination. Many effectively rely virtually entirely on honey bee pollination to be at all commercially feasible. If you want the same amount of almonds, apricots, zucchinis, kiwi fruit, avocados (the list goes on – and on), without those honey bees being involved, just how much more land do you say would need to be cleared for cultivation at the lower efficiency (and so how much more habitat needs to disappear)? It’s simple arithmetic. Or I guess we can just do with less food. Next time you eat an almond or avocado, know that you are relying on a contract-provided honey bee for it to have been produced at a price anyone would pay for it, and without clearing even more land to produce it at low efficiency.

            Also, if you don’t harvest honey and a hive becomes ‘honey-bound’, the bees will swarm or abscond elsewhere. Possibly into someone’s house. Where they will likely be exterminated. Or you give them more boxes to store honey, where they will store it in good times well past any plausible future need. You make a honey bee working relentlessly until it dies seem a travesty – but this is how they have evolved. They have no ‘off’ switch. They never get to a certain level of stores when there’s lots of nectar and say ‘enough, let’s relax’. Harvesting only in good times and reserving enough for winter without needing sugar syrup is a good backyard beekeeper’s aim. Presuming what we do is, well, presumptuous…