Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Stance on Honey + Bees

Miin, who is a good friend of mine, (check her blog) recently asked me
about my view on bees and honey.

I know in the vegan circles there is a big debate about the exploitation of bees.
One thing they should all remember though...almost every single fruit you eat
was pollinated by a domesticated "exploited" bee.
We simplywouldnt have fruit here in the states otherwise,
or reallyanywhere else for that matter.

I am definitely incorporating bees into my permaculture project in Minnesota,
but mostly for their pollinating powers. The small percentage of honey and pollen
that I would take from them would be only a bonus, and as far
as Im concerned, a little gift from the bees to me.

Think about it...I'm providing them organic pollen from all of the fruit trees,
building their homes, and keeping them warm in the winter.
I certainly dont believe in non-organic or cruelty-based beekeeping.

The fact that non-organic beekeepers spray those
poor creatures with pesticides and smoke,
steal their honey and pollen and feed them sugar water is a disgrace.
And its pure KARMA that all non-organic bees are suffering because
of varroa mites and weakened immune systems.

My bees would be a part of my family. I would take care of them.
I love honey, but its not my reason for having bees. Its more about
a symbiotic relationship, where I take care of them, and they take care of
me through pollination and a little honey. Fair?

We NEED bees. No doubt. Every home gardener should have a hive.
Read the Anastasia books and it becomes so clear.

Instead of USING and working against nature,
we must work with it. Honey is a magical food of
the highest vibration, and I feel that adding some into our
diet provides something special that we just cant get
with factory agave nectar and boiled maple syrup.

And also...we have to look at the sweetener most natural in our diet
in the past million years. HONEY. Not boiled tree sap or agave.
When you want to look real deep into our history, honey is the winner by far.
Is it a coincidence that we all win when
we add bees and bee products into our lives?
Bee Pollen, Honey, Royal Jelly...MAGIC.
And the bees pollinate the world like no other creature can.
They keep the cycle of life going.

What do you think?

Oh...and as far as winter goes, they all clump up in a ball inside the hive,
moving very little, and simply feast on honey until spring. WOW.
A northern beekeeper covers and insulates the hive, and I was even thinking about
putting one inside my dome greenhouse so I could compare the difference
in activity, and so they could pollinate the guava trees in January. Cool right?

I love honey, but I love bees even more.



Anonymous said...

Brilliant. My bro raises a single hive of Italian honey bees, in a completely organic hive he designed. They are beautiful. Gentle, great vibrations from them. The symbiotic relationship to having bees and sharing their honey, is key in my opinion.
For those of us without a hive, but eating raw honey, go buy a pack of wild flower seeds and spread them out by your freeway!

Kristen's Raw said...

Organic Consumers Association had this featured in their recent email newsletter.

"Large numbers of bees are disappearing around the world. This movie analyzes why this unusual phenomenon is occurring and how it could dramatically impact the our food supply."

View the trailer here: http://www.vanishingbees.com/

wyldegirl said...

how do you always know, and then subsequently post, what's going on in my thoughts currently??!
great thoughts, i completely agree.
peace, jenny

Bueller said...

Wow!You make them sounds so cute I kind of want some now. I wonder how that would go over in my apartment. Do you think they are considered pets? Ha! Love how the all get together to cuddle in the winter. Totally cool!


Jen said...

I'm with you on the raw honey..it's totally magical. And nothing beats melts-in-your mouth fresh bee pollen. And bee's wax candles....Oh what a naughty vegan am I...

goingRAWr! said...

anthony i have never read a more convincing argument as to why people should have bees. i have absolutely no doubt that you will love those bees with all your heart and yeah a bit of honey here and there.. i'm sure they'd be more than happy to share their bounty with you.
thanks for that, i have a much clearer understanding of the issue now.
*goes to search for bees*

raw by default said...

Now agave is bad? I'm going to have nothing left to eat...

I'm not a very good vegan. I eat honey and I own leather shoes (but it seems more disrespectful to the poor cow to trash the shoes when I already have them than to just wear them out and thank the cow). Anyway, back to honey... From a strict vegan point of view, I suppose it's "bad", but bees are going to make honey anyway, and you don't have to kill them to get it (unlike eating meat). We can get really persnickety and say we're exploiting the fruit trees to get our food, but then we'd all starve to death. If it's not cruel (and it's something the creature would do anyway), I don't really see it as exploitation. Not as far as bees and trees go, anyway.

kelson said...

Actually I practice organic beekeeping and still my hive got some mites and suffered from colony collapse.

Anonymous said...

When you introduce these bees into a non-native habitat, do they displace native insects?

Neens said...

Great post (great blog, indeed!), I just got an e-mail about this from 30 Days To Raw. My grandparents used to keep bees in Norway, but I was young and didn't like honey back then... To think of all the goodness I have missed out on!

Lots of love from Neens

nyc vegan said...

The fact that bees pollinate fruit has nothing to do with exploiting bees for their honey or pollen. Taking honey and pollen from bees is a direct action that couldnt' exist without human intervention.
Bees don't exist to provide us with honey or pollen. I don't think we have a right to take it from them, just as I don't think we have a right to take milk from cows, eggs from chickens, or meat from dead animals. They exist for their own purposes.
As a vegan, I will readily admit that honey is not on the top of the list of issues for us to worry about, but there's a larger point with all of this. Eating honey (or any animal product) reinforces the status quo mentality that animal products are "food."
Anthony, surely you must realize that the argument that you would "love your bees and make them a part of your family," is the same one the dairy farmers, egg Ok, I get it, you only use "Happy Honey." ;-)
To be quite honest, the obsession with bee products amongst the raw food world is disturbing to me.
It's a very ego-centric ideology.
Do you really think your health would suffer if we stopped pimping bees for their "magical" products?
Seriously though, the issue is one of consistency. The planet is in a lot of trouble right now, and we are all aware of that. The last thing we need is more exploitation of any living creature. Ultimately, it is only our own arrogance that allows us to use other beings as means to an ends. None of us can deny that that is precisely what is done to bees in order to have access to products.

Bees are incredibly complex and intelligent creatures--the best thing we can do for them is to leave them alone and let them do their thing-without human interference. That's what respecting the earth and other creatures is all about. If it means there's one less "magical" thing to eat, so what--there's tons of other choices.
Here's some info on honey issue from Friends of Animals:

Is Honey Vegan?
Daniel Hammer | Fall 2004
There is some confusion among vegans as to whether the products of bees are off-limits or not. Some vegans say they are okay, some say they are not, and still others say it is a personal choice. This lack of consistency can cause problems when vegans wish to go shopping or eat with friends.

Rochelle is one of the founders of the highly successful electronic Vegan Fitness site, a support group for vegans worldwide who want to learn about staying fit on a vegetarian diet.[1] On a recent visit to Finland, She was surprised by how many Finnish vegans opt to eat bee-derived ingredients. “The honey issue makes things a little difficult sometimes in social situations,” said Rochelle. She believes strongly in letting the bees keep their own products.

The folks at Tom’s of Maine, a manufacturer of natural hygiene products, claim their products contain no animal ingredients even though they use beeswax in their dental floss and propolis — created by bees from tree sap to repair and maintain their hive — in some of their toothpastes. According to company publications, “Both the beeswax and propolis are bee products. These ingredients are removed from the hive and neither the bees nor the hive are harmed in any way during the process. While some people do consider these ingredients to be animal derivates, others do not.”[2] Why the uncertainty as to whether a bee derivative is, in fact, an animal derivative?

Vegan is a term that was coined in 1944 by a group of British activists who broke off from the Vegetarian Society to form the Vegan Society. Elsie Shrigley and Donald Watson created the term vegan by taking the first three and last two letters of the word vegetarian. As Watson said, “Veganism starts with vegetarianism and takes it to its logical conclusion.”

According to the Vegan Society, veganism is a lifestyle that abstains from causing any form of exploitation or cruelty to animals. In practice this means adopting a plant-based diet free of all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs and honey. That means, according to those who coined the term, honey and all other bee products by definition are not vegan.

Vegans are among the most likely consumers to seek out products that claim to be free of animal ingredients. Honey, along with all other animal derived ingredients, has always been excluded from the vegan lifestyle. It appears that Tom’s of Maine and other companies with similar policies are substituting their judgment for that of the vegan consumer.

Honeybees, like other animals, have a complex central nervous system, which means they are able to experience pain and suffering. At peak honey-production time in 2003, an estimated 155 billion bees, from 2.59 million colonies, were exploited in the U.S. to produce honey for human consumption.[3] Honey, beeswax, bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis and venom are taken from bees for human uses. In the process of acquiring these, beekeepers regularly disturb the bees’ homes by removing the honeycombs from the hive. When this is done some bees will inevitable be injured or crushed, and any bees who sting the beekeepers will also die.

Honey is usually taken from the hive in the spring and fall. In the fall, beekeepers replace honey with white sugar syrup — a poor substitute for the bees’ natural food supply — or kill off the colonies to avoid maintaining the hives throughout the winter.

In a natural environment the queen honeybee would control the hive by choosing the hive’s location and by the number of eggs she produces. In a commercial bee operation the beekeeper manipulates the queen to keep honey production high. Queen honeybees are artificially inseminated after sperm is collected from a male bee by crushing his head and thorax, which forces the release of sperm by turning the bee inside out.[4] Sperm from several males is collected in a syringe that will later be used to inseminate the queen.

Queen honeybees have a natural lifespan of five years but most will be killed every one to two years.[5] Many beekeepers will clip the queens wings or put her in a cage called a “queen excluder” to keep her from flying away and taking the hive with her

Anonymous said...

~Heartwarming Story for the Day~

I used to be TERRIFIED of bees.. I hated them..and my mom has been known to spray them with RAID.

Last summer, in the backyard, I found a big ol' bumblebee in my moms birdbath. I poked at him with a stick, nothing...I did it again just to look at him upclose (quite frankly the closest Ive ever been to a bee) and he was so cute. I poked him again and he moved a bit! I got one of his lil legs hooked on the stick and I dragged him out. You could see his little yellow 'fur' was all wet, and his wings were... well, screwed.

I came inside and got one of my royal jelly pills (lmao) and took it out to him and poured it out for him.
He still wasnt doing so well, so I put him in a glass container with mesh and brought him inside.

After gently blowing on him all night to dry him off... he started buzzing around and trying to exercise.

I took him outside and put him on the grass. Dude, I have a video to prove it.. this thing TURNED TO LOOK AT ME before flying away over the trees. It was an awesome moment for both of us. LOL

I think I'll post the pics/video later on gitmr.


Starlight* said...

Awwww Kelly... that reminds me of my dad's story of rescuing a bee from a swiming pool. He also said that the little guy did a little "bee exercise" after drying of it's wings :-D

Anonymous said...

I think whether you are "nice" to *your* bees makes no difference. *Your* bees denotes ownership. The bottom line is the bees are captive and their food, which they've worked for, and their Queen's food is being stolen.

I'm sorry this food is so important to you that you would use and a free-by-nature creature to get it. It's by no means a necessary "food" it's an animal byproduct.

Holding bees captive in nice little homes you've set up for them doesn't make it any less captive than cows or pigs or birds. :(