Veganism and Sustainability: Why do vegans say no to a jar of honey?

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On the whole, vegans try to minimize all forms of cruelty to the plants, animals, and other earthlings we share the planet with. Honey is typically formulated by abusing the lifecycle of bees. Bees are entirely essential to help the world survive. Let us deep-dwell into what forms of cruelty are meted out in the honey industry!

Commercial honey bee farms

In a typical honey bee farm, bees are cultivated to harness enough honey for human consumption. Whether you raise silk worms or breed cattle for meat, any kind of exploitation of animals or insects is deemed unethical by the vegan community. Now, let us have a deeper look into what all of this means:

If you look at it, bees migrate from one flower to another in search of nectar. The bees consume the honey by visiting flowers. A single honey visits about 1500 flowers to just produce 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. This is stored in the second stomach of the bee. The stomach comprises enzymes that break down the nectar stored in the bee’s stomach into honey. The honey further vomits the honey and stores the same in bee hives. Honey is then consumed by bees during the winter months wherein there is a scarcity of nectar for these ecosystem saviors. This is mainly because most flowers wither away or dry out during winter. And, flowers would further bloom during the spring season wherein the sunlight emerges. To satiate the lack of food during the winter, honey is stored via honeycombs across bee hives. It is this chain that is broken by humans to steal the honey the bees create in their lifetime. 

Honey farms flip off the queen bee’s wings so that it will only remain in its hive and continue giving orders to fellow bees to produce honey. The honey is then taken away by humans. The honeycombs are replaced with sucrose or glucose enzymes to replace the honey with similar-tasting food. Honey or nectar has immune-building properties, carbohydrates, antioxidants, and minerals. This is the natural food that allows bees to survive. When we replace their honey with artificial sweeteners or carbohydrates their immune systems can get impacted. This process can challenge the survival of bees. 

Bees help plants to pollinate. Without bees, plants cannot pollinate or grow seeds. Without plants, there is no food for plants, animals, and human beings. So, we are destroying bee communities too on a massive scale. Therefore, the bumble bees have been reduced to a considerable extent indeed. Thanks to the over-exploitation of these species by selfish human beings. 

Unethical practice methods in a nutshell

What is the main aim of conventional beekeepers? Obviously, the aim is to maximize the yields of honey. That makes this industry a commercial venture at the cost of the bees. The farmers, therefore, aim to maximize the productivity of honey. These farmers take away the honey from the bees just to replace the hives with sugar substitutes comprising artificial sweeteners and sucrose. These foods are filled with just carbohydrates and junk that do not contain honey's micro-nutrients. 

Also in a conventional setup, bees are specifically bred to maximize the productivity of honey. This selective breeding, therefore, is not a sustainable option for the survival or conservation of bees. The honey breeders narrow down the population gene pool for the bees. Also, this selective breeding paves the way for the spread of diseases for the bees and their communities. Eventually, honey secretion can lead to a large-scale die-off for the bees. 

As honey bees spread pollinators from flower to flower, the spread of diseases for the bee communities also means the spread of viruses to thousands of flowers or pollinators the bees associate themselves with Hence we are contaminating our own food source via the production of honey. Again, how do you think diseases spread? The diseases spread by importing different species of bees for use in hives. 

What happens to post the honey extraction?

In order to keep the costs down, the hives are culled down as soon as the maximum bottles of honey are extracted via that particular bee hive. As said before, the queen bee’s wings are flipped off. This is done to prevent them from leaving their hives and forming colonies elsewhere. Also allowing the queen bees to form colonies elsewhere can mean less productivity or reduced profits for that particular bee hive cultivator. Therefore this is an animal-abusing industry wherein gain or profits over the sale of honey is considered of more importance as compared to the welfare of bees. 

Environmental effects

Mass breeding of bees comes to you with disastrous consequences of climate change for the environment we aim to live in. Therefore, the honey extraction process impacts the population of other nectar-foraging insects including those of native bumble bees. The population of native bumble bees has declined rapidly as the honey industry introduces an inflated number of farmed bees into the hives. Also, when honey-producing companies export or import huge quantities of honey for human consumption, the process can aggravate carbon print emissions. Most of the honey from the US or UK comes from Turkey or China. 

Concluding lines

You now understand the primary reason as to why vegans say no to a jar of honey. We have many plant-based alternatives to replace honey. Let us have a look into the same via our next article snippet. Till then, stay tuned!

Check-out vegan alternatives to honey. Here

Blog ideas inspired by: Why Go Vegan | Veganism and Honey | The Honey Industry (

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