So, there’s been a dilemma about honey being/not being vegan for a while now. The whole “no animals are hurt in the process, no animals are legitimately killed” made things rather confusing.
But really, honey comes from bees, another living animal on the planet, so technically, it’s not vegan. That’s why you see so many of us with maple syrup, or my beloved agave nectar. Sugar In The Raw. All of that stuff instead.
This, of course, got me thinking: how many people out there really know what’s going on with the bees? Surely you know that bees are endangered now.
Let’s learn a little, shall we?
So, To Recap…
There’s a lot of factors leading to the death of bees. Everything from the crops we grow to the pesticides used, to the horrible human activities that cause global warming, and parasites. Everything has come together to affect bees in a horrible way, and what’s worse is that there’s billions of dollars to be made from ignoring the problem and continuing our bad behavior.
The Environmental Protection Agency summed it up quite nicely, despite their slow attitude toward banning neonicotinoids (scroll down and sign the petition):
- Increased losses due to the invasive varroa mite (a pest of honey bees).
- New or emerging diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema.
- Pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control.
- Stress bees experience due to management practices such as transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services.
- Changes to the habitat where bees forage.
- Inadequate forage/poor nutrition.
- Potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors identified above.
But we need bees. We need them for there to be apples and pumpkins in our world. Flowers and other such food that would literally cease to exist if they weren’t around.
And plus, it’s sad! Think about bees getting lost due to pesticide use. Dying away from their hives, because they got disoriented. Or what about the ones born with wings they can’t use to fly? And that’s just two of the terrible things that could happen to them.
Let’s See Some Facts Though
- A third of the nation’s honeybee colonies died last year.
- California’s honey production fell by nearly half in just six years.
- Newsweek reported that honeybees in trucks migrate to various regions of the country to pollinate an estimated $40 billion worth of the nation’s agricultural produce each year. This means that every third bite of food we eat comes as the result of bees and other pollinators.
- Coffee beans depend on pollination for increased yields, think of Starbucks and your morning coffee. There are flowers for our holidays, beeswax which is used in the cosmetic industry, and lets not forget honey!
Is There Anything We Can Do?
Luckily, there is something we can do. We can do several things, but one of which is particularly close to my heart as I love to garden.
Check out this tip from the NW Honey Bee Habitat Association:
“Plant a pollinator friendly garden patch of any size Switching from pesticides to organic alternatives. You can look up some simple alternatives online such as vinegar and water to use as a weed killer if necessary.
Provide a water source such as a shallow bird bath with rocks in it.
If you see a swarm or have a colony of bees which has taken up residence in an unwanted area contact us or a local beekeeper for removal.”
Need in-depth instructions on how to do it? Read this article from Gardener’s Supply Company! Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the article for a complete list of plants, trees, shrubs and fruit that attracts honey bees!
“But Jenn, it’s autumn, I can’t start a garden right now.”
That’s OK, because you can still…
- Switch to using vinegar as a pesticide. Don’t use chemicals and pesticides to treat your lawn and garden.
- Buy vegetables and fruit locally, if you can help it. These days, if you live in the suburbs, even 20-30 minutes outside of a city, you tend to find at least one local stand. If you don’t know if you have one, do a quick search on Google Maps! Just type in “farmer’s market.”
- When you can, put out a small basin of fresh water outside your home. A bird bath with some stones for them to sit on would be just fine!
- Let other people know what they can do to help their honey bee friends!
- Let congress know what you think. Change needs to happen, and it needs to happen now! Urge the Environmental Protection Agency to do something about it and ban neonicotinoids, just like the European Union already has. Sign the petition here.
What would happen to us if bees died off completely? Watch this awesome Life Noggin video to find out! Btw, Life Noggin is essential to life, so subscribe!
Psst: want to know why honey isn’t vegan? Because it’s actually their food! Yeah, especially created for the harsher winter months, no less. And each bee produces very little honey, so imagine what happens when humans dig in there and collect a ton to sell.