Page One :Animal
Rights Issues Concerning Bees
Three : A mention of Bumblebees
It Is So Important That We Stop
Every creature is better alive than dead, men and
moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright
will rather preserve its life than destroy it.
Henry David Thoreau
Does it matter, its only an insect?
In the 1990s I recall a radio talk show host presenting
the discussion about the concern for dolphins and even
whales inadvertently caught in nets designed to catch
Tuna fish. Rather than continue this much publicised
perspective, for which there was and continues to be
significant public support, the presenter posed these questions: What about the Tuna
Fish? Why are dolphins and whales more important than
tuna fish? Why is it okay to catch kill and eat tuna
fish but not whales or dolphins? Was there a prejudice
due to intelligence or simply size? I rather think that
both of these considerations are determinant in the whys
and wherefores concerning the reasons why it is
considered okay to kill, mistreat or
eat some creatures but not others. As outrageous as it
may seem, intelligence and size, amongst other issues, has a lot to do with
whether or not we consider an animal's life of value.
Other than serious conservationists, who really
cares or even is aware of some tiny beetle in the rain
forest under the threat of extinction?
People often believe that how we treat bees and other
insects is not important and consider that they' re only insects
and not animals. For many people bees are only of
concern because of the role they play in pollination and
our supply of food and other commodities. Would there be
as much concern if bees were not so vital to our
existence? Probably not. Even
some animal rights campaigners think we need to
concentrate our attentions on mammals before considering
insects. Why? Is it because they are small or because
they are different ? Is it because we think they do not
feel pain or we consider that they are not intelligent,
not sentient ?
Or perhaps because it appears that bees harm one another
such as the fight to the death between virgin queen bees to
establish the reigning queen, that it matters not if we
cause harm ? Is it because some of us may
be somewhat phobic about insects? Few people will help
any creature who causes them fear, including other people.
Many people are phobic about insects including myself or
fearful of getting stung. What precisely is the
issue here? It is true of course that there is
more concern about bees due to the implications to our
own survival, of Colony collapse disorder CCD but I do
wonder if anyone would really care if CCD did not effect
I will address these issues one by one
Are bees animals?
To begin with bees and other insects are animals, the
notion that they are not is a common misconception which is
easily addressed in basic biology.
last two hundred years In the science of biology all
living things have been divided into two basic
categories or kingdoms: plants and animals. In more
recent times however some biologists distinguish certain
different types of organism that seem not to fit into
either category which they consider need a classification separate
from either plant or animal, such as Fungi and some
single celled organisms, and that these should be given
their own separate Kingdom or category. At the present
time all living
things are placed into one of the following kingdoms: Monera, (bacteria and most single celled organisms)
Protista, Fungi, (microorganisms such as yeasts and
molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms) Plantae,
(plants) or Animalia (animals). The classification of
living things is part of the science of taxonomy. For a
basic comparison between plants and animals please click
here . As you can see insects are clearly animals.
Insect is a subcategory, as is mammal and amphibian, but all
Why is it
animal rights campaigners or vegetarians and maybe even
vegans do not consider the rights of insects in the same
way as other animals, for instance mammals ? This consideration most
likely occurs from the mistaken belief that bees are not
animals which of
course as mentioned above is a misconception that animal rights
campaigners, just like anyone else, may have. A vegetarian is
just as likely to pour salt on a slug or swat a fly as anyone else
simply due to the erroneous idea that such creatures as slugs,
which are molluscs, and insects are not
simply not be considered of importance because they are
small, which simply defies explanation as of course size is
irrelevant. In a vast universe all creatures including
man are insignificantly small. Size cannot be a
reasonable consideration concerning our treatment of any
creature, an animal
is... an animal, a sentient being regardless of size. More
about sentience in bees further down. Some mammals are
smaller than some insects.
other insects are different?
difference between ourselves as mammals and insects,
including bees, there are of course differences, but there
are also similarities. Bees and other insects have a nervous system as do Mammals. Both have a skeleton, the only
difference is that a mammal's in on the inside while for insects
theirs is on the outside, an exoskeleton. Yes
bees like us have eyes, five in fact, two compound eyes
and three simple eyes, instead of two single lens simple eyes. Insects, like us and all other animals, and yes that
includes fish, breathe and take in oxygen and expel
carbon dioxide. Insects along with the rest of the
animal kingdom have a circulatory system and when they
get injured they feel pain and they may die. There are
more similarities than differences, but even if there
weren't again an animal is...well...an animal, a
being regardless of a few differences.
Many people think that bees do not feel pain, again an
incorrect assumption mostly likely due simply to faulty
thinking related to the consideration that bees are not
animals. It is more likely than not that bees feel pain.
Bees have a nervous system.
Bees and other insects have a brain extending from which
are a series of cells which lead to complex neural
ganglia; concentrations of nerve tissues situated in each body segment. You could think of
ganglia as sub or secondary brains. Nerves
extending from the brain and ganglia send signals to all
parts of the body to coordinate bodily functions,
behaviours and senses. Nerve fibres connect the
ganglia with the sensory endings on the outer layer of
the bee, other nervous impulses are carried by fibrous
tissues from the ganglia to internal organs and muscles
regulating their actions.
Tests demonstrate that bees respond to painful stimuli
and they like us have an endorphinic system of
biologists Balderrama et al. conducted an experiment in
which bees were exposed to an "electrical stimuli"
(i.e., shocked) and their stinging response was noted.
Then different bees were given various injections
(including morphine and naloxone) and shocked some more.
They concluded that bees have a pain killing system,
which can be enhanced with morphine or blocked by
naloxone. In their own words:
Morphine (50 to 200 n-moles/bee) produces a
dose-dependent inhibition of the honeybee response to
the electrical stimulus and this effect is antagonized
by naloxone. These findings indicate the occurrence of
opiate receptors in the honeybee and suggest the
existence of endogenous opiates (i.e., an endorphinic
system for pain perception modulation). However, two
facts have to be taken into account. First, even though
the doses of naloxone that antagonize morphine are
similar for bees and vertebrates, the D50 [50%
inhibition of the stinging response] of morphine for
honeybees (927 ug/g) was found to be far greater than
that reported for behavioural tests in vertebrates (0.30
- 10.0 ug/g), and 3 to 10 times higher than that
reported in other arthropods. Second, bees injected with
enkephalins and related peptides at a dose of 200
n-moles/bee did not exhibit the effect of the same does
of morphine. The results obtained by the morphine
experiments suggest that an endorphinic system is
responsible for pain modulation in bees (Balderrama
quotations were taken from
Why honey is not vegan
where you can find more
information about bees and their ability to feel pain.
While experimentation on any animals is inhumane these
tests are cited here and in the website above, which is
concerned with vegan issues relating to bees, no
doubt because it is vital evidence that bees feel pain.
notwithstanding the above and other similar facts there appears
to be no conclusive evidence widely accepted in
scientific circles that bees or other insects
feel pain. My opinion is that if any creature has a
nervous system, than that animal feels pain and is sentient.
Even if it cannot be proved that bees feel pain they
should be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes
to their welfare. It should be assumed that they
experience pain like all sentient creatures, as it is
extremely unlikely that any creature with a nervous system
does not. Bear in mind that pain in any creature
may be experienced differently, indeed pain between
members of the same species is not experienced in
exactly the same way.
You can never know what the pain experience is like for another human being let alone a different species.
For example some people are more sensitive to painful
stimuli than others, women feel pain more keenly than
men but women cope better with pain than men.
Furthermore even if the pain response or the reaction to
harmful stimuli, which is the definition of pain, is
entirely different it is likely that this sensation is
unpleasant, as of course the purpose of pain is a defence
mechanism to ensure a creature takes action to remove
himself from harmful situations. Moreover as
sentient beings bees wish to avoid harm and death, a powerful
instinct present in all animals including man. Therefore If you
take an action that would cause pain in any creature, the action has
caused damage to the animal nonetheless even if the
animal concerned does not feel pain in the way you and I
Are bees intelligent?
Many consider bees and other insects to be automatons
without intelligence or sentience. There is evidence
that bees are intelligent. I cannot envision the complex
organisation of the hive arising solely from some kind
of hard wired thoughtless automation.
What are the indications that bees are intelligent?
Bees have a language, not of course in the same way that
humans do, but language need not be dependent upon words.
Bees perform complex behaviours which serve as a
type of language or if you like a form of communication.
In 1973 Karl Von Frishch's classic studies for which he
shared the Noble prize demonstrated that bees tell other
bees were food can be found by the means of the
This is a very complex form of communication: honey bee
workers have the ability to search for and find food,
return to the colony and convey this information to
other bees and than return to the source of the food.
More about the waggle dance later.
There is now
evidence that honey bees are capable of reason and their
behaviours indicate they understand the concepts of same
and different, abilities usually associated only with
vertebrates and then mostly primates.
in his book Minding Animals: Awareness, Emotions, and
heart, commenting on research by Martin Giurfa and
colleagues which elaborate the
findings of Karl Von Frishch's says:
"interpolate visual information, exhibit associative
recall, categorize visual information and learn
contextual information," abilities to be evidence of
thinking. Giurfa and his colleagues trained honey
bees to recognise colors and grating patterns in a Y
maze. When the bees entered the maze they saw either
blue or yellow ,and when they arrived at the Y junction
they saw that one direction was labelled blue and the
other yellow. Bees where able to learn that the reward
of sugar solution was found in the arm of the maze that
was the same color as the entrance. They could learn the
same task with similar and different grating patterns
and also when lemon and mango odors were used instead of
colors. Because the bees could tell sameness from
difference, the researcher concluded that they could
How does a bee
know which flowers to choose and know where she will
find them. More or less the same as we do by a series of
complex thought processes of which we are barely
conscious. Bees are
capable of pattern recognition and are able to learn
shapes and can memorise and distinguish a wide range of
visual patterns. Such abilities are vital in order for a
bee to recognise a flower or locate the hive. Bees often
choose one particular flower from which to extract
nectar and pollen.
pattern recognition, memory and other capabilities:
increasing evidence that learning and perception in
insects is more intricate and flexible than was
previously imagined, and that insects are far from being
reflexive automatons. Bees can abstract general features
of a stimulus, such as its colour, shape and scent, and
apply them to other stimuli they have not previously
encountered. They can learn to use new cues to detect
camouflaged objects. They can also learn to use symbolic
rules for navigating through complex mazes, and to apply
these rules in flexible ways. They are capable of using
complex associations to recall journeys and so are able
to return to previously visited food sources.
..experiments, using reward-based training, have
revealed that bees can learn a wide variety of visual
patterns and distinguish between them. Pattern
recognition is pivotal in helping a foraging bee
recognise some goal, which may be a flower or the
entrance to the hive. Pattern recognition is also
crucial in learning familiar landmarks that will guide
the bee on its way to the goal.
Work in the 1970s suggested that bees memorise the
shapes of targets (flowers for example) in an eidetic
(photographic) fashion. Recognition of a familiar
object, according to this view, involved comparing the
image of the object with the 'snapshot' that had been
stored in memory. Later work revealed that bees are also
capable of recognising patterns in terms of their
general properties, such as orientation, symmetry, or
lack of symmetry.
can also be trained to recognise scents through an
experimental paradigm which uses the so-called proboscis
extension reflex (PER). A bee is given a whiff of a
scent, and is then immediately fed a drop of sugar
water. After one or two cycles of this training
procedure the bee extends its proboscis (tongue)
immediately after it experiences the scent, in
anticipation of the reward. This form of learning is
very similar to that exhibited by the famous Pavlovian
dog, which could be conditioned to salivate in
anticipation of food when a bell was rung.
above where taken from
Bees do it - Fast Thinking
where you will
find comprehensive and fascinating information about the
amazing capabilities of bees
Bees are sentient?
How can we know if any creature is conscious, is aware
of his surroundings and has a sense of self and others,
has preferences and intentions, aversions, experiences pain and other forms of suffering, in other
words is sentient?
In his book Pleasurable Kingdoms Jonathon Balcombe
discusses the question of consciousness and quotes David Griffen:
'How can we know whether or not another animal is
conscious? We cannot. You cannot even know for certain
whether another a human being is a conscious, thinking
individual. However far-fetched the possibility
you cannot know that your friends are not mechanical
robots planted by extraterrestrials and programmed to
respond to stimuli as they think and feel. .. Ultimately
we cannot know and the
disputable argument. Do we accept it? Of course not. We
reject this because it is so highly improbable and
because it defies common sense.
Than what about other animals? To David Griffin,
founder of the modern field of cognitive ethnology ( the
behavioural study of animal thinking ), the belief that
humans are the only thinking feeling beings on the plant
is just an extension of solipsism. It's species
solipsism and equally nonsensical. Says Griffin:
"Nature might find it more efficient to endow
life-forms with a bit of awareness rather than
attempting to hardwire every animal for every
conceivable eventuality ." '
After reading the section concerning bee
intelligence, their methods of communication, their
capacity to learn, to find their way through a complex maze
and their ability to recognise patterns and remember the
shapes and odours of flowers along with their
organisational skills surely we cannot say that bees are
not sentient, not aware, do not make decisions and are
automatons. If you are still in doubt here is an example
of bee decision making : Worker bees not only go out seeking sources of nectar and
pollen as described earlier but when it is time for the queen to leave the
nest and found a new colony scout bees seek out a suitable
location. This location must fit specific
criteria; a hollow in a tree for instance, positioned at
least three metres from the ground and facing south, the
cavity must have a volume of at least twenty litres with
an opening of 30sq feet *1) At least a dozen locations are found and remarkably
within only one to two days a new site for the colony is
selected from the alternatives.
Studies undertaken by Tom Sealey and Susannah Buruhman
from Cornhill University reveal some fascinating insight
into this phenomenon. Four hundred bees in a swarm where
tagged and observed. It was discovered that the quality
of the site was determined by the vigorousness of the
waggle dance. The scout bees do not switch allegiance to
a site, if once presented the bees do not dance again
if they have not received attention, in this way
decisions are quickly formulated. How the scout bees
select a suitable location for consideration is not yet
understood. However during his research Seeley
demonstrated that direct measurements are taken by the
scout bees to assess the volume of their potential new home
based on the amount of walking they do to circumscribe
Decision making is indicative of sentience. Moreover
this decision making is not only quick but efficient, I
rather doubt that a human committee making such a decision
and considering so many choices would arrive at such a
conclusion so swiftly and with such ease. Most
importantly the ability to make a decision is considered
an indicator of sentience.
Humans it seems are looking to bees for help in the
process of decision making.
After writing the above I came across a very interesting
article By Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
in The Telegraph with the headline:
"Honey bees work together to make group decisions"
"Honey bees use a complex system of consulting one
another before choosing a hive in a process London
scientists say could help humans make better decisions."
"The study concluded that the
system bees use in nature of
sending out scouting groups resulted
in the best decision.
Professor Christian List,
Professor of Political Science and
Philosophy at The London School of
Economics, said the bees natural
decision-making process chose the
"The honey bees' decision
procedure is remarkably
sophisticated," he said. "The swarm
manages to block and prevent the
kind of "group think" that can
bedevil good decision making."
Please read the full article:
Honey bees work together to make
group decisions - Telegraph
Again in reference to the waggle and round dance Eugene Lindon in
his book The Parrots Lament relates a story told to him
by Donald Griffin,
as saying "that nature may find it more efficient to
endow life forms with a bit awareness", concerning an
experiment conducted by Princeton University ethnologist
(animal behaviour specialist) James Gould involving
“the scientist brought some flowers and bees
out to the middle of the lake in a rowboat, while
another group of bees was brought to a feeder closer to
the shore. Once released, the foragers returned to the
hive and did their dance, telling the other bees the
direction of the flowers. Evidently, the bees back on
dry land reacted with disbelief to the suggestion
conveyed by the bee dance that there was a source of
pollen in the middle of the lake; almost no bees showed
up at the rowboat. On the other hand, large numbers of
bees came calling for pollen when a rowboat was close to
This account demonstrates conscious thinking and it is
likely that the bees in this experiment were in fact
using something equivalent to our thinking processes as a
method to test out ideas. Surely this demonstrates
cognisant awareness, independent thinking, the ability
to analyse and interpret information in order to make an assessment. Such a reaction cannot have been hardwired into the
behaviour of these creatures, such behaviour is surely
not that of an automaton but a sentient being, an
intelligent sentient being.
"Nature might find it more efficient to endow
life-forms with a bit of awareness rather than
attempting to hardwire every animal for every
conceivable eventuality ." '
In another experiment conducted by James Gould he placed
some food next to a bee hive which attracted bees to
feed. After a while he moved the food 50 metres further
away. A short time afterwards the bees found this food
and commenced feeding once again. A little later on he moved
the food another 50 metre in the same direction. This
time the bees located the food in only one minute. They
found the food the next time it was moved another 50
metres in less than a minute. The bees than
anticipated the next move and were waiting for him
exactly 50 metres distant when he arrived.
In another study related in the August
1986 issue of
Discover ("A Honey of a
Question: Are Bees Intelligent?") Gould
lured some bees to a dish of artificial
nectar, then gradually moved it farther
from the hive after they became
accustomed to it. He marked the addicted
bees, placed them in a darkened jar, and
relocated them to a spot where the hive
was still visible, but not the dish.
When released one by one, the bees would
appear disoriented for a few seconds,
then fly directly for the covert dish.
73 of 75 bees reached it in about 28
seconds. They apparently accomplished
this feat by devising a new flight path
based on a cognitive map of visible
Bee learning and communication - Wikipedia, the free
Bees along with wasps, ants, and termites are eusocial
creatures; this means that these animals are capable of
creating a highly organised social structure with high
levels of communication, co-operation, parental care and
self sacrifice for the good of the colony.
The entomologist William Morton wheeler attributed to
insects the ability to experience depression, pain, fear
elation and affection when they were observed to help their injured or disabled nestmates.*3)
The ability to play and experience pleasure may well be
within the capacity of bees .
Such are the prodigious feats of the honeybee that
they have buried a number of previously held assumptions
about the limitations of insect brains. Even play could
be within the honey bees behavioural repertoire. During
the so called 'training flights' by recently emerged
workers , individuals launch themselves from the top of
the hive and flap their wings as they flout to the
ground; than they climb up and repeat the exercise.
Honeybee authority Martin Laindauer in 1961 described the behaviour as playful.
Pleasurable Kingdoms Jonathon Balcombe
Bees harm one another - does it matter if we harm them?
The fact that bees harm one another, the emerging virgin
queens who fight one another to the death, as explained
above is yet another excuse people make to continue
their exploitation of bees. What does it matter if a few
bees get killed as a result of beekeeping after all they
kill one another?
Bees may harm each other but the harm humans cause to
bees as described earlier is far more excessive.
Moreover do we consider it okay to exploit a different
group of human beings simply because that group harms one
another? Of course not. Following this reasoning no aid
would be sent to disaster areas anywhere in the world as
of course within all human social co-operatives such as
nations and organisations there are individuals and
sections of the group that may and often do cause
deliberate harm to other members. No, the fact that bees
sometimes kill each other is no
excuse, and remember bees support and co-operate with
one another far more than they harm one another.
Nature maybe cruel but does that give us the right to be
equally cruel. In many ways far worse than harm
inflicted between bees is of course the harm human
beings inflict upon one another. This in no way
justifies inflicting harm on other humans simply because
they cause harm to one another, although many wars are
fought for such reasons when at times more harm is
inflicted upon the people who have assumedly been
liberated. And of course however dubious such conflicts
are many people consider that such are fought for the
greater good or at any rate believe that they are. In
the case of bees of course human intervention has no
benefit for the bees and there is no way beekeepers can claim that their interventions are
helpful to bees. Beekeeping/factory farming and to a
lesser extent the endeavours of some backyard hobbyists is undertaken
solely to exploit these creatures for their honey and
wax. Furthermore the annihilation of whole hives by
cyanide gas, the clipping of the queen's wings and legs
and other detrimental interventions are by far in access
of any of the suffering bees inflict upon one another.
Does fear prevent you from considering the issue of
animal rights regarding bees ?
Finally, there is sometimes a lack of concern for bees
and other insects even amongst some animal rights
activists, vegetarians and also vegans, who by the definition of the
word should avoid in any way possible harm to any
creature. Yes there is inequality and discrimination
even amongst these groups who deem a mammal more
important that a bee. Look up animal rights and bees for
example in an internet search engine and you will find
very little information supporting rights for these
creatures or advocating welfare. Why? Is it
because a cat is cute but an ant is not and is to most
people ugly. Although a bee is furry and more
appealing than an ant there can be nonetheless some
revulsion. You can cuddle a cat, stroke a guinea pig, be
friends with your dog, but a bee is untouchable and
unreachable on any level both physical and emotional.
Fear and aversion may play a role here, even deep
seated phobic fear. I myself have a mild phobia of insects,
at least their appearance, particularly en mass. One ant
is okay but to thousands of them swarming I find I have a phobic
reaction. I can't watch them on TV or in photographs and
this includes bees, one bee fine but swarming
bees bring on a phobic reaction. During the one day each
year when the
female ants fly I am so anxious and will not leave the
house. Nonetheless, I recognises the irrationality of
such phobic anxiety and I would be very careful not to allow
such to cause me to harm any creature. Phobias concerning
insects and similar creatures such as arachnids, the
most widespread focus being spiders, are common
I am not of course saying beekeepers exploit
bees because of phobic reaction, I am though saying that
few people take up the cause of these creatures simply
because they find them unpleasant to look at and have
some phobic fear of them. Phobias cannot be helped and
if a phobia is seriously affecting your life you may be
able to get help to desensitise your fear. However no
one should allow fear to effect they way they treat bees
or any other animal including human beings. Sadly though
so much violence against other creatures or complacency
arises simply from fear. I think that such a fear has
some role in the general lack of concern regarding the
consideration of animal rights and welfare concerning insects,
along with the other reasons discussed above.
It is interesting to note a case history of a patient
suffering from depression who was, according to the
psychiatrist, overly sensitive inasmuch that she became
anxious about causing harm to other creatures,
including insects. The consultation was centred around an
incident when the patient was distressed by the
accidental killing of a worm whilst gardening. The
advice to the patient was to swat a few flies and thus
desensitise herself should she accidentally kill another
worm or similar creature. Admittedly the patient went to
extreme lengths to avoid harming any living thing,
however the advice given was inappropriate and
demonstrates the lack of concern for tiny creatures such
as insects, worms, and the like. After all the
psychologist would not advise the patient to kill a few dogs or a
guinea pig. Why? Why is it okay to swat a few flies but
not a mammal? The reason most likely is that few consider insects, worms, slugs and similar as living conscious sentient beings
for the reasons described above.
On a personal note I have found my slightly phobic
response towards bees has been mitigated somewhat since
preparing this webpage which has involved much research
into these fascinating creatures. Knowledge is power so
they say, but knowledge also leads to
understanding. Understanding the intricate complex lives
of bees increases a respect for these creatures as
intelligent, sentient beings with lives of their own, creatures with their own purpose and place in
the world. I now see a bee buzzing around flowers on a
summer's morning as a wonderful creature truly alive in
the same way as a, cat, dog, a sheep, a goat, a fish
or a human being.
What can you do to stop the exploitation of honey
The simple answer is to stop eating honey or using other
bee products which include: honey, beeswax, propolis,
bee pollen, royal jelly and venom. There is no need for
honey in your diet and there are alternatives. There is
no nutritional value in honey that cannot be found
elsewhere and despite all the hype
about royal jelly and longevity the same also applies. Even if there were do
you have the right to enhance your life at the expense
of another sentient being? In my opinion no you do not.
Royal jelly is a substance secreted from the
hypopharyngeal glands in the heads of young worker bees
to feed the queen,
and when the eggs
become larvae the baby bees also eat this food for a
period of 2-3 days.
is a mixture of honey and pollen mixed with enzymes
produced in the throat of worker bees. It is the only
source of food for the queen.
special food is extremely powerful, rich, and
nutritious... to bees that is, not human beings. Odd
isn't it how we can consider insects so different from
ourselves and by so doing justify killing them or at
least showing no concern for their welfare, yet consider
that food produced by such a creature, deemed so different, can possibly have beneficial effects. Royal jelly is for
queen bees and their larvae, not humans.
Scientists know that the
properties of royal jelly are not unique, it is
composed mostly of
proteins, sugars, and fats, along with vitamins like the
B complex, niacin, folic acid, and enzymes. All of the
these vitamins and minerals may be obtained elsewhere;
to reiterate none of the aforementioned nutrients are
unique to royal jelly. It is not a regulated medicine
and has never been shown, through scientific studies on
humans to have any
health benefits. In fact it is possible to
have a serious allergic reaction if you are susceptible.
The purported but dubious and unproven health benefits
of bee products including honey, propolis and royal
Jelly, all of which are used as medicine and food
supplements, do not justify the use and abuse of
honeybees, any more than are the equally dubious health
claims regarding milk and eggs, which despite evidence
to the contrary are still promoted as essential to
health with healing properties. Venum, the sting of a
bee, is also claimed to have medicinal properties and is
extracted when bees fly into an electrically charged
membrane which is positioned in front of the hive. As
the bees fly into the membrane they receive an electric
shock which causes them to sting the membrane, in this
way the venom is deposited. The bees of course die.
There are many other non-animal alternative medicines
and dietary supplements available.
Removing honey from your diet in a similar way to
removing meat make the inhumane production of these
products obsolete, unprofitable. Avoid using any
of the above products for the same reason.
Honey can simply be replaced of course by using sugar
but be sure to use unrefined cane sugar or beet sugar.
Refined sugar is not good for you and it may be prepared
by burning charcoal made from animal bones. If you
want something that looks and tastes like honey one of
the best alternatives to honey is agave nectar which
comes from the blue agava plant. In fact many claim it
is sweeter than honey. Also try barley malt syrup, brown
rice syrup, molasses maple syrup, liquid stevia, which
is virtually calorie free and sweeter than sugar.
Bees wax may be present in many products in daily use
including glazing on fruit, sweets and baked goods,
always check the label.
What is Beeswax Used For?
Now before I go on do not feel overwhelmed, do the best
you can. It may take a while to change to more bee
friendly alternatives. Just do your best according to the dictates of your own personal ethics. Every time you avoid purchasing a product such as honey
or royal jelly or other bee derivatives you are helping
to stop the exploitation of bees, but no one is perfect
and mistakes are made or are unavoidable.
I hope some of the information below will help you to
make the transition from using bee products to cruelty
free alternatives. Be aware that bee products may be
present in everyday items such as candles, cosmetics and
food supplements(see link directly above).
Candles made from bees wax and other animal products can
easily be replaced by candles which contain no animal
derivates. There are many such products on the market.
It amazes me that candles which may contain animal
derivatives are used in the religious ceromonies of
religions that forbid the taking of the life any being.
Candles used in serious religious mediation such as
Buddhism which contain the remains of once living
creatures seems, does it not, rather incongruous when
meditating upon enlightenment for all beings. However
often it is simply a matter of ignorance as a result
simply of not questioning the ingredients of products in
Below is a list of on-line retailers of vegan animal
friendly products were you can find alternatives to bee
derivatives. With one exception I have no personal
experience with these businesses and I include them merely
Here are just a few on-line examples of where you can
buy vegan candles, that is candles which do not have any
animals products including bees wax.
There are many similar providers of vegan candles.
A Lot of Candles:
candles and candle holders
"Something for the Wicked" have a
selection of vegan candles, but be careful as they do
sell other types of candles including candles made of
bees wax. I found the website rather confusing and
it is best to e-mail first and ask which candles are
vegan and do not contain bee's wax.
Vegan Candles by Something For The Wickend
Shop Vegan, also has a selection of vegan cosmetics and
vitamin supplements which ship worldwide
Vegan Hemp Candles : TreeHugger
Polish also may contain bees wax. There are alternatives
on the market such as:
The Bio-D Company Ltd - Environmental Consultants
Scroll down for polish which has The vegan Society's
approval. You can sometimes find a range of their
products in your local Oxfam Shop.
If you can't find a suitable polish here is a recipe
from the Care 2 website:
"1/4 cup of vinegar and a few drops of oil
Cosmetics and toiletries may contain bees wax and or honey
along with other animal derivatives, in addition they
may be tested on animals, there are many alternatives on
the market, again check the label or look for a vegan
symbol of validation.
Check your labels, look for the following:
How To Identify Animal Free Cosmetics - Animal Free Zone
Vegan Cosmetics | Vegan Products | So Organic
honesty cosmetics cruelty free shop shopping makeup
cosmetics vegetarian vegan
Beauty Without Cruelty
Animal Aid Shop : Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) : vegan
cosmetics, cruelty free Here you can buy Beauty
Without Cruelty products in The UK
Vegan Cosmetics: Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe
There are many alternatives if you look for them just
enter vegan cosmetics in the search engine.
Here in the UK you can find vegan products in shops like
Holland and Barrett and the Oxfam shop may have a small
selection of vegan products, but check the labels.
Of course you do not have to be a vegan to stop using
bee products but typing in the word vegan in your search
ensures that the product will not have any bee
What is a vegan :
“A vegan is someone who tries to live without exploiting
animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the
planet. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, with nothing
coming from animals – no meat, milk, eggs or honey, for
example. A vegan lifestyle also avoids leather, wool,
silk and other animal products for clothing or any other
The above definition of vegan, from the
excludes the consumption of honey and all
the other bee derivatives mentioned above.:
If you not sure what the difference between a vegan and
a vegetarian click
Now please read page
Three where you will find information concerning
the threat to bumblebees.
Back to page
Page One Also
see Bee facts
1)Talking with Animals by Charlotte Uhlenbrook
2)Talking with Animals by Charlotte Uhlenbrook
3) Pleasurable Kingdoms Jonathon
Bees and Honey and the Vegan Ethic
by James Van Alstine
Bees and Honey and the Vegan Ethic - From Mid-Hudson
Vegetarian Society, Inc
"What¹s with the bees, anyway?
Extract below but please read the rest of the article
Honey is always on the list of animal foods vegans
avoid, but after 16 years as a vegetarian and years of
animal friendly activism, I¹ve yet to meet one strong
The defence of bees is certainly at or near the bottom
of the list of vegan concerns, and I confess it¹s one
point where I¹ve cheated from time to time.
So low is this priority that when I did a Google search
of "bees" and "animal welfare" or "animal rights," most
of the returned hits were from pro-meat sources or
cynical corporate media outlets ridiculing the animal
rights movements' defence of oppressed worker bees.
So does a bee advocate have a leg (or six) to stand on?
Bees - Vegan Society
"Bees are manipulated worldwide to produce many products
for human use: honey, beeswax, propolis, bee pollen,
royal jelly and venom. They are intelligent insects with
a complex communication system.
Because bees are seen flying free, they are also often
considered free of the usual cruelties of the animal
farming industry. However bees undergo treatments
similar to those endured by other farmed animals. They
go through routine examination and handling, artificial
feeding regimes, drug and pesticide treatment, genetic
manipulation, artificial insemination, transportation
(by air, rail and road) and slaughter."
Friends of Animals | Is Honey Vegan?
like other animals, have a complex central nervous
system, which means they are able to experience pain and
suffering. At peak honey-production time in 2003, an
estimated 155 billion bees, from 2.59 million colonies,
were exploited in the U.S. to produce honey for human
consumption. Honey, beeswax, bee pollen, royal jelly,
propolis and venom are taken from bees for human uses.
In the process of acquiring these, beekeepers regularly
disturb the bees’ homes by removing the honeycombs from
the hive. When this is done some bees will inevitable be
injured or crushed, and any bees who sting the
beekeepers will also die.
Honey is usually taken from the hive in the spring and
fall. In the fall, beekeepers replace honey with white
sugar syrup — a poor substitute for the bees’ natural
food supply — or kill off the colonies to avoid
maintaining the hives throughout the winter"
Honey bee banner
Creative Commons — Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic
Honey Bee - Apis mellifera on Flickr - Photo Sharing!