Why is it that veganism and honey/beeswax is considered a grey area? Is it because the bees themselves are insects and not cute, furry creatures with big brown eyes? Is it because of fear for being stung? Is it because they do not provoke sympathy in the face of fear?
We are essentially exploiting them for our own selfish purposes. They are kept in man made contraptions just like factory farmed animals that are cuter.
Bees are farmed just like animals. They are fed a diet of corn syrup & sugar and kept working around the clock to produce more and more honey that the bee keepers and us eventually steal. Wings of queen bees are clipped so they cannot fly away and bring their worker bees with them. Bees die trying to protect their hive from intruders ie. Us. Smoke is used to keep bees from stinging their keepers and traps are set to avoid any bees ‘escaping’ often leaving them to co-exist with their dead hive-mates as their bodies cannot be removed.
The question of free-range or organic honey is really irrelevant- unless you are personally supervising how the honey or beeswax is extracted, how do you know no bees are harmed? The honey industry is still a profit machine- queen bees are routinely killed off when they are deemed too old and are often left to freeze to death over winter, with a new hive to work the warmer months because it is more economic.
Bees aren’t seen as intelligent in the way pigs are but how do we know? And does it matter? We don’t avoid using animal by-products based on how smart a creature may be. There is nothing to support the fact that bees don’t feel pain. Of course they do, they are a living, breathing creature with an internal nervous system. Just because we can’t see it in their eyes means nothing.
Reading about bees and honey, you learn that they are fascinating creatures, despite being only insects. They have a complex hierarchical system that functions as a real society. They contribute to the pollination and growth of pretty much every plant, flower and fruit that nature has to offer. They deserve our respect and appreciation however we don’t give them that. We fear them because they have the potential to harm us without even realising that a bee will only sting a human if they feel threatened.
But don’t you kill other insects anyways? Well, yes, it is virtually impossible to go through life with out harming tiny insects, to not accidentally step on an ant at some stage, or swat a fly away or have bugs fly into your windshield while driving. But vegans do not purposely contribute to the suffering of animals and yes, that includes bees.
While the website hasn’t been updated in a while, this is still one of the best articles that I have read explaining why honey is not vegan and what is actually involved in the process of bee keeping.
Instead of eating honey, use agave necter. Choose candles that use soy waxes- they last longer and hold scents better. Instead of having beeswax or royal jelly in your cosmetics, look for one of the myriad of alternatives such as shea butter or coconut oil to moisturise and olive or synthetic wax used as an emollient. It is not necessary to harm these tiny creatures.