As most of us know by now (thanks to Honey Nut Cheerios and Hipsters wearing “Save the Bees” shirts) honey bees are dying off very quickly in America. I knew a huge factor in these deaths was the loss of habitat for the bees, however, it turns out there are many other reasons as well. Stress from moving and transporting hives, malnutrition (primarily during the winter months when their honey is taken away from them), chemicals and pesticides, and of course climate change are all factors contributing to the loss of bees.
Humans are doing a very fine job of killing off one of the most important insects on the planet, but how can we stop this?
First, a quick explanation of the honey industry. Honey is made by bees to help them survive the winter months, it’s basically all they have for food when there are no plants to pollinate. The bee industry takes this honey away from the bees and replaces it with sugar water meaning the bees do not have the resources they need to make it through the winter which then leads to malnutrition. Transporting hives wherever we please can also be stressful to bees who are used to spending their entire lives in one place. In some cases, queen bees have their wings plucked off not allowing them to move, this is helpful for the beekeepers because it forces the bees to stay in the same hive, however, this is awful for the queen bee.
The bottom line is humans are using bees to make money.
What we can do
Bees are affected by many different factors, two huge ones are the loss of habitat and chemicals and pesticides. You can go here to learn more about ways to make your garden bee-friendly, helping to combat their loss of plants to pollinate. Buying organic is also a great way to help bees! It’s always a good idea to support companies that are doing great things for the environment, and buying organic produce is one way to do this! (It’s also always a good idea to buy local, this will reduce carbon emissions and support local bees)!
Another great way to support bees is to also support local beekeepers, but wait...
Should Vegans eat Honey?
I believe that honey is not an awful product, it’s yummy and it has amazing health benefits! But right now I am not comfortable buying it. The honey industry as a whole is killing off the bee population. They treat the bees badly just to make money, and I don’t think that’s okay. Ideally, I believe that the honey industry has the potential to save the bees! If they are treated humanely, bees could bounce back while still participating in the honey industry. Responsible beekeepers give the bees a place to live and plenty of plants to pollinate. And if they are treated well then these conditions will encourage the bees to repopulate.
Buying local is a pretty good way to make sure the bee hives are not transported around and used almost solely for pollination. However, it is still hard to determine if a beekeeper is treating the bees humanely and runs a sustainable farm.
So do your research, I would recommend starting with small, local beekeepers. I’ll keep you updated on any ethical bee farms I find, but for now I’m just going to take a break from honey and instead focus on planting a little bee friendly garden on my porch.
What do You Think?
Should we eat honey? Do you know of any ethical beekeepers?