Vegans and honey. - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 04-08-2013, 08:08 AM
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It sounds like the topic of honey is divided among vegans.  Can some of you give me both sides of the issue please?

 

Thanks.

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#2 Old 04-08-2013, 08:49 AM
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Honey isn't vegan, it is an animal product. I don't think any vegans dispute that honey is an animal product. However the debate comes in concerning whether cruelty is associated with honey production.
I don't consume honey bc of reasons explained here: http://www.vegetus.org/honey/honey.htm
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#3 Old 04-08-2013, 09:57 AM
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Honey isn't vegan, it is an animal product. I don't think any vegans dispute that honey is an animal product. However the debate comes in concerning whether cruelty is associated with honey production.
I don't consume honey bc of reasons explained here: http://www.vegetus.org/honey/honey.htm

 

Yep, I think that sums it up perfectly. 

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#4 Old 04-08-2013, 09:57 AM
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I can almost see that some would consider it an animal product but it's primarily a plant product (nectar) with some enzymes added by the bees so it will not spoil/ferment/mold.

 

As far as cruelty, it depends upon the beekeeper's methods.  At least it's not like in the old days when the bees were intentionally killed in their skeps with smoke from burning sulfur before the honey was harvested.

 

If a beekeeper keeps bees for pollination and doesn't eat honey can he/she be a vegan? :)

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#5 Old 04-08-2013, 10:35 AM
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I can almost see that some would consider it an animal product but it's primarily a plant product (nectar) with some enzymes added by the bees so it will not spoil/ferment/mold.

Honey is by definition an animal product. Bees produce honey. Nectar is digested by bees and honey is the result, turning nectar from a plant product to an animal product since bees are necessary.
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#6 Old 04-08-2013, 10:45 AM
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Except that the nectar isn't digested.  It's stored in the bee for the flight back to the hive.  If the nectar were digested it would be excreted out the other end of the bee. :)
 

Any opinions on this? => If a beekeeper keeps bees for pollination and doesn't eat honey can he/she be a vegan? :)

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#7 Old 04-08-2013, 10:59 AM
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Except that the nectar isn't digested.  It's stored in the bee for the flight back to the hive.  If the nectar were digested it would be excreted out the other end of the bee. :)
 

Any opinions on this? => If a beekeeper keeps bees for pollination and doesn't eat honey can he/she be a vegan? :)

 

 

Where do bees store the nectar during the flight back to the hive?  in a type of stomach.

pooping is not a necessary step in digestion, throwing up is the other route, which is technically what honey is: bee throw up. 

 

without the enzymes bees add to the nectar (produced in their stomachs) the nectar would never turn to honey, as well as the swishing around in their mouths and fanning they do in the hive. 

 

honey is by definition an animal product.

 

I don't have any opinions on being vegan while keeping bees and not eating honey.  

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#8 Old 04-08-2013, 11:03 AM
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If the nectar were digested it wouldn't have enough nutrients left to be worth storing in the hive.  Nope, it's not digested, i.e., it's not poop.  It's simply stored for the return flight.

 

Maybe someone else can answer the other question.
 

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#9 Old 04-08-2013, 11:15 AM
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If the nectar were digested it wouldn't have enough nutrients left to be worth storing in the hive.  Nope, it's not digested, i.e., it's not poop.  It's simply stored for the return flight.

 


 

 

If honey were a plant product it would be able to be produced without animal intervention.  honey cannot be produced without bees.

 

poop is not a necessary step in digestion, and I didn't say honey was poop.  it is more like barf spew.gif

 the bees add enzymes while the nectar is in their stomachs and mouths that are necessary to turn nectar into honey.  without these enzymes the nectar would never turn into honey.

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#10 Old 04-08-2013, 11:22 AM
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the bees add enzymes while the nectar is in their stomachs and mouths that are necessary to turn nectar into honey.  without these enzymes the nectar would never turn into honey.

 

I already said that so it's good we agree.

 

I just re-read my second post and see that I wasn't 100% clear.  If a food item has any involvement by an animal then I can see why vegans would avoid it so I'm not arguing that point.  My current question is still: If a beekeeper keeps bees for pollination and doesn't eat honey can he/she be a vegan? :)

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#11 Old 04-08-2013, 01:50 PM
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If a beekeeper keeps bees for pollination and doesn't eat
honey can he/she be a vegan? :)

 

Is this a trick question? Is this a case of a farmer letting bees pollinate his crops, while not taking their honey? I don't think it would be possible to "keep" bees, without controlling their food, that is, taking their natural food- honey- while substituting it with inexpensive sugar, which renders the bees weak and susceptible to disease and parasites, which in turn, requires the bees to be artificially medicated, with harsh dustings of antibiotics, etc. The bees will simply escape, and establish their own hives, where they choose.

 

I know beekeepers who routinely "rent out" bees for pollination. This requires the bees by the hundreds-of-thousands to be trucked at high speed, 2000-miles, on flat-bed trailers, over mountain ranges, to California, where they pollinate the almond trees and other crops, and then, when the work is done, are trucked back, so their honey can be "harvested."

 

Is this a case of a beekeeper selling the honey for profit, but not eating the honey himself? I don't think ANY beekeeper is vegan, because vegan is more than just diet; it's abstinence from exploitation and commodity-use of animals.

 

Allowed to behave freely, bees would not live long in wooden boxes. They stay only when they're forced to.


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#12 Old 04-08-2013, 01:52 PM
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Except that the nectar isn't digested.  It's stored in the bee for the flight back to the hive.  If the nectar were digested it would be excreted out the other end of the bee. :)
 

Any opinions on this? => If a beekeeper keeps bees for pollination and doesn't eat honey can he/she be a vegan? :)

I never thought about this before, so I looked it up. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food says that pollination is the second most popular reason why people keep bees (the first was honey). Then I read up on bee care and it looks like some bee keepers use chemicals to keep pests and diseases from hitting the hive. I'm not sure if I consider it very vegan to keep bees - though people do keep other animals so...?

 

BUT I think if someone wants bees they should aim for natural care and first try bee-friendly landscaping. That doesn't actually require you keep the bees. 


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#13 Old 04-08-2013, 02:37 PM
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Capstan,

 

Sure.  A beekeeper can keep bees without taking the honey.  No problem.  Just leave the honey for the bees.  Colonies have existed for years that were unattended by humans.  And the beehives in trees that used to abound were not dependent upon humans.

 

As far as a trick question is concerned, no, not a trick question but it does lead somewhere.

 

Say that a farmer keeps bees for pollination and doesn't take the honey.  Would the fruits and nuts from his orchards be vegan since his kept bees are pollinating his orchards?

 

Let's say, "No.  They're not vegan.  Those poor little girls worked so hard to pollinate his orchards."

 

Then what if the farmer doesn't keep bees and his orchards are pollinated by another farmer's bees from across the road.  For the same reason they shouldn't be vegan.

 

Since according to several sources there are no feral bees anything pollinated by honey bees wouldn't be vegan.  (And if one believes that there are feral honey bees please realize that honey bees are not native to North America so anything pollinated by any honey bees isn't vegan since they're all kept or escaped or descendants of escaped honey bees.  There are no wild honeybees in the US.)

 

If vegans can't eat honey because of the work provided by the honey bees then they shouldn't be allowed to eat any foods that required pollination by honey bees.

 

This is a huge problem for vegans since about 1/3rd of the plant foods in the US are dependent upon honey bee pollination; almonds, cherries, apples, etc. etc. etc

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#14 Old 04-08-2013, 03:03 PM
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I'm not quite sure why bees are singled out by vegans, I'd assume billions of insects are killed every day, probably every hour, in agriculture. Either through pesticides or other protective measures, or from mechanical harvesting. I suppose if I were to grow my own and be self sustaining then I could - and probably would - avoid contributing to those deaths, but I'm not about to do that. And I can't see how a pot of honey is contributing to insect deaths in any more significant way than the cabbages or carrots or bread I have everyday. It seems a somewhat arbitrary line to draw in my mind. Not that I'm trying to offend anyone in any way I hasten to add!


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#15 Old 04-08-2013, 03:07 PM
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If vegans can't eat honey because of the work provided by the honey bees then they shouldn't be allowed to eat any foods that required pollination by honey bees.

 

This is a huge problem for vegans since about 1/3rd of the plant foods in the US are dependent upon honey bee pollination; almonds, cherries, apples, etc. etc. etc

In a perfect world patrolled by the vegan police, you're probably right. 

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#16 Old 04-08-2013, 03:13 PM
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Well, if anyone hasn't realized it by now I am a beekeeper.  I'm a hobby beekeeper.  (Commercial beekeepers are another story.)

 

I provide artificial homes for my bees.  They come and go as they please and if I were to let them get too crowded they'd just leave.  I can't stop them.

 

They have many acres of wildflowers to gather pollen and nectar.  I have a nearby pond they can use as a water source.

 

I'm a minimalist as far as any treatments are concerned but the poor little girls have so many things going against them these days.  Thank goodness they learn to adapt quickly to lots of issues.

 

All of my colonies survived the winter!!! rockon.gif

 

It appears that my desire to become a Vegan will not happen but I'll be darn close to one.  (I only have bees for pollination.  I give away or sell my honey.)

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#17 Old 04-08-2013, 03:25 PM
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Capstan,

 

Sure.  A beekeeper can keep bees without taking the honey.  No problem.  Just leave the honey for the bees.  Colonies have existed for years that were unattended by humans.  And the beehives in trees that used to abound were not dependent upon humans.

 

As far as a trick question is concerned, no, not a trick question but it does lead somewhere.

 

Say that a farmer keeps bees for pollination and doesn't take the honey.  Would the fruits and nuts from his orchards be vegan since his kept bees are pollinating his orchards?

 

Let's say, "No.  They're not vegan.  Those poor little girls worked so hard to pollinate his orchards."

 

Then what if the farmer doesn't keep bees and his orchards are pollinated by another farmer's bees from across the road.  For the same reason they shouldn't be vegan.

 

Since according to several sources there are no feral bees anything pollinated by honey bees wouldn't be vegan.  (And if one believes that there are feral honey bees please realize that honey bees are not native to North America so anything pollinated by any honey bees isn't vegan since they're all kept or escaped or descendants of escaped honey bees.  There are no wild honeybees in the US.)

 

If vegans can't eat honey because of the work provided by the honey bees then they shouldn't be allowed to eat any foods that required pollination by honey bees.

 

This is a huge problem for vegans since about 1/3rd of the plant foods in the US are dependent upon honey bee pollination; almonds, cherries, apples, etc. etc. etc

 

I'm not sure what you're getting at. This is almost like an exercise in rhetoric. If someone doesn't interfere with a bee hive, leaves the bees alone, and allows them to function naturally, are they really a "beekeeper?" Was the original establishment of the artificial hive (boxes) an act of veganism? Technically, no, yet if the relocation of the bees, while unnatural, was beneficial for the bees, it might be considered an act of symbiosis. For humans, there's a fine line between what is unnatural, and natural.

 

Are you sure you're not just splitting hairs?


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#18 Old 04-08-2013, 03:30 PM
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I work with my bees regularly, several hours this past weekend in fact.  My hives reside on my patio.  I harvest honey in the fall.

 

I provide a beneficial environment for my bees and they provide a service to me which allows them to gather pollen and nectar for their hives.

 

I'm not splitting hairs any more than the whole idea of 'honey not allowed for vegans' is splitting hairs. I find the notion absurd.  I find the logical continuation of the notion ridiculous but at least it's consistent.
 

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#19 Old 04-08-2013, 03:37 PM
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Well, if anyone hasn't realized it by now I am a beekeeper.  I'm a hobby beekeeper.  (Commercial beekeepers are another story.)

 

I provide artificial homes for my bees.  They come and go as they please and if I were to let them get too crowded they'd just leave.  I can't stop them.

 

They have many acres of wildflowers to gather pollen and nectar.  I have a nearby pond they can use as a water source.

 

I'm a minimalist as far as any treatments are concerned but the poor little girls have so many things going against them these days.  Thank goodness they learn to adapt quickly to lots of issues.

 

All of my colonies survived the winter!!! rockon.gif

 

It appears that my desire to become a Vegan will not happen but I'll be darn close to one.  (I only have bees for pollination.  I give away or sell my honey.)

 

I worked as a commercial beekeeper's assistant one year (Spring, Summer and Fall) about 1998, and was appalled by what I saw and did.

 

Out of curiosity, what do you think "your" bees would do, if you didn't take their honey, and what are they eating, if you're taking it?


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#20 Old 04-08-2013, 03:46 PM
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Every year the queen bee is killed by decapitation or frozen to death over several hours. The drones are killed by having their abdomen crushed to collect their semen. There are other issues others may go into detail about, but when killing, ESPECIALLY long and painful killing, comes into question then I believe it's not okay. I don't believe it's wrong to keep bees if the only human interaction is caring for them.

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#21 Old 04-08-2013, 03:47 PM
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Yep, commercial beekeeping is another world.  Not one I'd ever be part of.

 

If I didn't take their honey they'd eat honey and bee bread.  I do take some of their honey.  I leave the two bottom boxes, both deeps, untouched when I harvest.  For my area that leaves plenty of honey and bee bread for the winter.

 

If the two deeps aren't full enough I take some full frames from the upper boxes and install them in the lower boxes in place of some empty frames.  The bees come first.

 

They eat what they're supposed to eat whether I harvest or not.
 

BTW, I was trained by a retired state bee inspector who is also a commercial beekeeper.  The stuff he told me about some of the commercial guys (including him) convinced me that I want no part of the commercial side of beekeeping.  I'm in my 6th year so I'm still fairly new at this and learning more every season.  Those little gals are so fascinating.

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#22 Old 04-08-2013, 04:06 PM
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Every year the queen bee is killed by decapitation or frozen to death over several hours. The drones are killed by having their abdomen crushed to collect their semen. There are other issues others may go into detail about, but when killing, ESPECIALLY long and painful killing, comes into question then I believe it's not okay. I don't believe it's wrong to keep bees if the only human interaction is caring for them.

 

 

I don't do any of that and there's no need to.  The workers kill the drones in the fall.  I split my hives and let the workers create new queens.

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#23 Old 04-08-2013, 04:36 PM
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Ah, it was something my brother was taught to do during backyard bee-keeping courses!

How do you split their hives?

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#24 Old 04-08-2013, 04:42 PM
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It does sound like rhetoric. From what you describe, I wouldn't have any problem with your bees.

There was a time and circumstance when I'd have problems with people having sheep and shearing their wool.

There are places where I still have no issue with people hunting for food.

It's about necessity, it's about a natural symbiotic relation with the animals we share this planet with.

No person needs honey. We do need bees to pollenate. I really only know the things I read about beekeeping, but your situation sounds like a very good give and take. At the alarming rate bees are dying now maybe people like you can the answer to help their return.


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#25 Old 04-08-2013, 09:38 PM
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...If a beekeeper keeps bees for pollination and doesn't eat honey can he/she be a vegan? :)

My local ethnobotanical garden has vegan bee blocks.

Its pretty spiffy, just a log or a bundle of thick sticks with holes drilled in, mounted chest or head high, native non-hive forming bees reproduce in the little wooden caves and in the process they frolic in all nearby flowers.

No abuse, just attracting bee mommies with a custom built nursery complete with free local cuisine.

 

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#26 Old 04-09-2013, 03:55 AM
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Bee keeping is a form of exploitation in much the same way as keeping chickens for their eggs.  They are being used for something their bodies make naturally and it is being taken from them and made into products for humans, including honey itself, most often for a profit.  It would be the same as me being kept by someone else for my hair, but allowed to live a comfortable life and given all the other amenities I need and my family lineage being preserved in this way (if I were fortunate enough to be kept by a more "humane" keeper). 

 

At the very least I can not imagine eating honey or purchasing the byproducts of it when bees are disappearing at an alarming rate in the world.  They are stressed enough as it is.  Human interference in order to save them or to help them continue to thrive on their own and recover wild colonies is one thing (much like putting out natural and native food in a bird feeder for birds), but keeping them for their honey for human use or to pollinate crops (which they would still do naturally in the right conditions) is another.  Even just googling bee keepers and reading about bee keeping on Wikipedia makes me cringe at the abuse of bees over the years.  In some cultures wild bee hives are invaded and torched and the honey taken.  Geepers. Others are shipped for thousands of miles in crates and boxes in less than ideal conditions. I think the more important issue for preserving the disappearing bees would be to fund more research on why this is happening and to stop mass pesticide and fertilizer use on crops that is one of the reasons they are disappearing.   I think VegNews magazine had an article in their last issue about the disappearence of bees called "The Secret Lives of Bees".   


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#27 Old 04-09-2013, 07:34 AM
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Ah, it was something my brother was taught to do during backyard bee-keeping courses!

How do you split their hives?


Splitting a hive is done by taking 4 frames of brood and the nursery bees that cling to those frames and putting them in a separate hive with 6 empty frames.  It has to be timed right and there need to be very newly place eggs.  The nursery bees will select some of the eggs to become new queens and 1 queen will reign over the hive.  When she mates with the local drones she'll bring in local genetics which are hopefully better adapted to my location.

 

It happens naturally when a hive swarms or the worker bees kill a non-productive queen for replacement or the old queen dies.

 

I don't see much sense in buying a queen from California or Louisiana to supply genetics for bees in the Midwest.

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#28 Old 04-09-2013, 07:43 AM
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Thanks Silva.

 

I see my efforts as helping to artificially assist natural activities.  (In my area, as in many others, there aren't a lot of honey bees like there used to be.)  It isn't perfect but it helps a biological need in my area.  And when you think about it, honey bees aren't 'natural' to North America anyway since they were introduced by humans but they have sort of become natural.

 

 

Auxin,

I try my best to spoil my bees. I'm nuts about those little girls!  smitten.gif

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