Why do vegans avoid honey? That’s because, however sweet honey may be, the industry; not so sweet at all.
Globally, honey production has soared. Large scale importation of the product has created massive carbon footprints. Bees are required not only for honey but for beeswax, royal jelly etc. With an increase in demand (growth rate of 19,000 tonnes per year), the bee industries are booming with soaring markets. However, the only one's suffering are the bees themselves. Bee species are going extinct. It is hard to count the number of bees left on the planet due to constant movement, however, it is a known fact their number is declining.
Worldwide, the number of bees has been plummeting at alarming rates, due to colony collapse, climate change, mites, pesticides etc. The honey industry, however, is one of the major factors leading to the decline of bees. Unethical practices, profit-driven approaches and ill-management of beehives are the biggest causations.
Bees produce honey for their energy sources and not our consumption. When honey is extracted from hives, it is replaced by sugar-water, which lacks many of the required nutrients needed by bees. The substitute reduces the natural synchronization with bees and the outside environment. Apart from the shortage of micro-nutrients, sugar water can stimulate disease-causing Varroa mites, a parasite that feeds on the blood of bees and contribute to the collapse of many colonies.
Bees work as a superorganism within their colonies. The queen is the mother of almost all the bees in the hive and drones help reproduce while the worker bees produce energy, support the hive, heater bees maintain temperature etc. To have a well-functioning mechanism in place a technique called 'swarming' or reproduction is used. As a new queen-bee cell is formed within a hive, the old queen along with a swarm of bees leaves the hive. The process is natural but is suppressed by industries for increased yield. Another unethical way to prevent queens from leaving their hive is by clipping their wings. It's painful to the queen who cannot fly anymore. She usually falls out of the hive agitating the swarm even more. This creates internal chaos and disturbs the natural equilibrium of the beehive.
Another reproduction process is artificial breeding. Artificial tools are inserted into bees making it both damaging and intrusive.
When queen bees die, the hive declares its emergency. The bees start working to create an emergency queen cell which can be completely avoided. Often this process does not take place and the hive perishes without their queen. To create more queens, beekeepers manipulate the natural system. They trick colonies into having these emergencies only so they can create more hive (as new queen cells are formed). Normal larvae are deceived to grow up to be queens, completely disrupting the functioning of the hive.
So what is the best solution to this? Going vegan. Avoid any bee products like honey, propolis, royal jelly, beeswax etc. One can replace these with vegan alternatives like vegan candles, lip balms etc. Food replacements like bee-free honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, barley and malt syrup, rice syrup and sorghum syrup can be used.