Hi guys! I've been vegan for a while, but recently, I wondered exactly how it was that bees were mistreated - everyone posts about free range chickens/eggs, cows/artificial insemination and stuff, but I'd never actually read how bees were harmed.

So I did some research on it, and every single website I saw said "some bee farms use unethical practices" or something along those lines. I'm wondering if there are certain brands then, that are completely cruelty free? And that it's only certain farms that are unethical?

I know maple syrup is fine, but I'd just like to know if anyone has any information on this.

Also, I live in New Zealand, are the practices more ethical here maybe? Is that why I'm not finding anything?

Thanks :)

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There are alternatives to honey. Like agave nectar for example. The product In The Raw will have stuff like Stevia In The Raw, Sugar In The Raw, Agave Nectar In The Raw, etc. In The Raw has sweeteners that are 100% vegan friendly. There is also Truvia  as well. I'm not sure if Truvia is vegan friendly but I looked on the ingredients list and there is no trace of animal products used. Truvia uses stevia so as far as I'm concerned there should be no animal products added. But research on Truvia I would recommend just to be sure its 100% vegan friendly. Hope I helped some. :)

Oddly enough, right after I posted this discussion, I searched again, and found out that it's not just the abuse, but the fact that honey's their only source of food during the winter - so regardless of practices, it's inhumane. 

It's just good to know - cos I've always avoided honey, but never known exactly why! 

Thanks for that too! I might check out agave nectar :)

Having looked into bee keeping as something to get into myself I can say that there some bee keepers certainly uengage in unethical practices. These can include:

  • Harvesting honey which is the sole source of food for bees over winter (as people have mentioned). Feeding with sugar may deprive the bees of nutritious food;
  • Some keepers clip the wings of, or cage, the queen bees in order to stop them from swarming;
  • Most conventional hives force bees to adopt a specific comb structure that, while advantageous to the bee keeper, disallows the bees from constructing natural comb. Doing so can affect hive temperature (important in winter) and natural behaviour (less drone brood is made).
  • The international trade of queens has allowed for the spread of pests and diseases between continents. This particularly affects bees that have not developed resistance to 'foreign' pests/diseases.

Having said the above, there are a couple of bee keeping philosophies ('natural bee keeping') which recognise the faults in conventional bee keeping and seek to allow the bees to exhibit natural behaviour with a minimal approach to intervention. The harvesting of honey is done after winter once the nectar starts to flow thereby allowing the bees to access their own honey (the bee keeper isn't guaranteed a yield of honey - you're unlikely to find this kind of honey in the supermarkets).

I have a couple of friends who engage in natural bee keeping. Witnessing their reverence for bees warms the heart :)

'Bee Keeping For All' by Abbe Warré is a rather good read. He invented the Warré hive and was a proponent of natural bee keeping. He provides an analysis of the different hives and bee keeping philosophies if I recall correctly.

Former Vegan Society president Arthur Lings article "Ain't So Sweet: The Other Side of Honey" should answer all the questions and points raised in this discussion.

Click the link below then navigate to page 12 to find it;

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