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A recent survey of U.S. beekeepers shows that 23 percent of American honeybee colonies died this past winter, largely because of parasites, pesticides, poor nutrition, disease, and unknown causes. An unseasonably cold winter coupled with climate change have also devastated the U.S. honeybee population. The demand for honey and beeswax remains high though. Consequently, bees are factory-farmed, much like chickens, pigs, and cows are. And like other factory-farmed animals, bees are victims of unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation, and stressful transportation.

The white box that commonly serves as a beehive on bee farms was created so that beekeepers could move the hives from place to place. As an article in The New York Times pointed out, bees have been “moved from shapes that accommodated their own geometry to flat-topped tenements, sentenced to life in file cabinets.”

Business is Buzzing

The honey industry can take in more than 176 million pounds of honey every year, at a value of more than $215 million. Since “swarming” (the division of the hive upon the birth of a new queen) can cause a decline in honey production, beekeepers attempt to prevent it by clipping the wings of a new queen, killing and replacing an older queen after just one or two years, and confining a queen who is trying to begin a swarm.

The queens are artificially inseminated using drones, who are killed in the process. Many commercial beekeepers will also “trick” queens into laying more eggs by adding wax cells to the hive that are larger than those that worker bees would normally build.

Bees need their honey for nourishment, especially during the winter. Industrial beekeepers want consumers to believe that honey is just a byproduct of the necessary pollination provided by honeybees, but honeybees are not as good at pollinating as many truly wild bees are. A worker bee may visit up to 10,000 flowers in one day, yet in his or her lifetime produce only one teaspoonful of honey.

Cruelty-Free Alternative

If you like the taste of honey but don’t want to support factory bee farms, try vegan honey, including Suzanne’s Specialities’ Just Like Honey and Rice Nectar or Bee Free Honee, which was included in the 2014 Oscar swag bags. Bee Free Honee is made from U.S.-grown organic apples and comes in five flavors: Original, Ancho Chili, Chocolate, Mint, and Slippery Elm. Agave nectar, rice syrup, molasses, sorghum, barley malt, maple syrup, and dried fruit or fruit concentrates can also be used instead of honey.

Honey, beeswax, and other bee products can also be found in lip balms, lotions, and other beauty products, but PETA maintains a list of cruelty-free products that are also bee-free. To learn more, please visit PETA.org. And if you want to do more to help save pollinators, including bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and bats, the Disneynature documentary Wings of Life recommends planting a garden wherever possible.

Image source: Bob P/PETA

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0 comments on “Here’s How You Can Save Honeybees”

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1 Years Ago


07 Jul 2017

Do you not get the very simple idea that we shouldn\'t be forcing this to happen ? If it\'s natural, that\'s all well and good. How would you like if someone forced you into sexual relations? Regardless of whether you die or not. How is that justifiable? You seem to believe that there\'s some rationalisation related to this act being natural. Someone having sexual relations with you is \'natural\' regardless of whether you want it or not. So, it\'s natural, and I guess that makes it right according to your logic. Let\'s kick off this new regime of sexual relations. You can be the guinea pig! Bet you can\'t wait!

4 Years Ago

Vegan Honee as they call it is produced from organic apples grown in the US. What is used to pollinate apples in the US? that\'s right, commercial bees. Bee\'s that are "Kept Prisoner in a file cabinet" and hauled around the country by agri-business. These guys are bee farmers, not bee keepers.
My bee\'s come and go as they please. They are not treated with chemicals. I am lucky in the fact that they have had very low pest counts the last two years.

4 Years Ago

This has to be the most uninformed, ignorant, uneducated "article" I\'ve ever read. The "author" obviously doesn\'t know the first thing about how bees work.

PJ Misa
4 Years Ago

What a shallow bare-faced attempt to mislead people and promote fake honey! Where in the world is all this "sinisterizing" of beekeeping coming from? Bees are not caged. They are free to leave anytime conditions become oppressive for them, which is why so many colonies are simply disappearing - they can no longer take the polluted surroundings so they leave. The writer\'s imagination is working overtime trying to put down honey, which has been cultured for thousands of years because of its beneficial properties as well as its taste, in favor of their "organic" fake honey! WOW! Good luck!

Robert Kunasek
02 Aug 2014

Thank you! nice to see some people that know what they\'re talking about

4 Years Ago

I found this article very misleading on many levels. The writer clearly knows little about beekeeping or bees. Every male drone that mates successfully with a queen dies NATURALLY as part of the process - he literally is disemboweled when he ejaculates. So to suggest that killing drones is part of artificial insemination is ludicrous. It is part of mating. Additionally, if commercial beekeepers are cruelly forcing the bees to make more honey, then why would they "trick" the queen into laying more eggs? If there is an egg in the cell, there is not honey in the cell. I could go on and on. Instead, I will just say that there are plenty of us out here who are planting bee-friendly plants, keeping bees organically, and working to try to stop the use of pesticides and herbicides which kill bees. If you actually cared about bees, you would at least be doing this last thing. If you tell everyone not to use honey, then the companies that manufacture bee-killing chemicals will continue ad nauseam, until there are no bees left. This is where your strategy will lead. Also, since the plants that make the fake honeys you recommend all require bees for pollination - many of which orchards use commercial bees for said pollination (bees trucked in from elsewhere), you are "using" bees no less than the beekeeper to suit your goals. I really think if you are going to take a stand for bees, your article should be more factual and concentrate on the positive things about organic beekeeping, reducing monocultures, etc.

24 Jun 2014

Standing behind you on this! Absolutely. My partner and I *serve* bees and use organic and natural methods. There is no "bee cruelty" going on.

4 Years Ago

While it\'s true most large scale keepers aren\'t much different than other big-agri businesses, in that they focus on maximum honey extraction over healthy bees, there is a movement for natural keeping methods. We focus on happy bees, and extracting honey is a secondary concern. There is no cruelty in how I keep bees.
This article, while well intentioned, is very misleading and preachy.

4 Years Ago

And just how are those apples. molasses, agave, dates, etc. going to pollinate all the fruits and vegetables that need the bees?

4 Years Ago

In israel we have "Sylan", which is honey made with dates.

25 Jun 2014

If it\'s made from dates, it\'s not honey. By definition, honey can only be made by bee\'s.

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