Blog: BUNNYpants and SIPPYcup - Eclectic Menagerie
by Aharleygyrl

Honey Is Bee Vomit

Honey must not be used at any time internally. It is manufactured from the nectar picked up from the flowers by the bees...then predigested, vomited and stored for
their own future use with a preservative added. It is deficient in calcium and has
many detrimental effects for the human being.

Date:   9/28/2007 9:13:19 AM   ( 13 y ) ... viewed 15870 times

After reading a blog on how healthy honey is a while back, I felt stupid...telling someone I did not realize honey was for bees to eat, that I thought it was made for humans.  I still thought humans were supposed to have it.  We are taught honey is so nutritious and natural.  Recently, I discovered that humans are not supposed to be eating it at all.  And, the fact that bees throw it up, I find so disgusting, I cannot even touch another bite of it.  I stumbled across it on a master cleanse site, where it said honey is not to be used during the cleanse, and that Vegans do not believe in eating it, either.

Furthermore, and this should not surprise me, we exploit bees just as we do cows or any other animal we can make money off of.  We enslave the bees, take all their honey, feed them sugar water, kill their queen prematurely, artificially inseminate the queen.  Sound familiar?  It reminds me of what we do to cows.  Honestly, I do not consider humans civilized.  There are far too many humans in this world who are savage and are destroying the planet for all of us.  I feel sorry for the bees and all the other animals that we cause suffering to in the name of money.  Yes, we need food and have to kill some animals, but the way cattle are treated, the way the "bush meat" animals are  treated in the rain forest, and all the others we exploit, makes me sick and ashamed to be a human.  I think humans should be split in two categories, those who want to exploit animals and other humans, and those who want to live communally and help each other survive and thrive.  And those categories should not have to interact with each other.  The problem is, when this sort of thing has been done (on a small scale), it is always done in the name of religion and the leaders of it always end up exploiting the members, probably animals, too.       

TinyPic image 

It is one of the most over promoted, overpriced product being sold to gullible health foodists. The great value attributed to honey is delusive ... honey is only a little less empty and more dangerous than sugar."

Just as with alcohol, honey, being predigested, enters the blood directly, raising the sugar content very rapidly above normal. To correct this, the pancreas must produce insulin immediately or possible death can occur. More insulin than necessary is likely to be produced, and the blood sugar level then drops below normal. This can produce blackout spells and even death if it goes too low. When blood sugar is below normal, a person will feel depressed. The regular use of honey can create constant imbalances, which in turn will adversely affect the normal function of the liver, pancreas and spleen. Hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are the results of the use of unbalanced sugars. The balanced sugar in maple syrup and sugar cane juice causes no dangerous side effects. All natural fruits and vegetables have balanced sugars in them.

http://www.urbanhonking.com/overarching/archives/2006/07/master_cleanser.html

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The Enslavement of Bees

The simple fact is that the bees are enslaved. What? Bees slaves? Yes, bees as slaves. Or it's dominionism, exploitation of nature, etc.--whatever you like to call it. As Alice Walker said, "The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men." (I would also add that plants and the earth were not made for humans either.) What follows is a look at specifically how honeybees are exploited by man. Note that this follows precisely the same pattern of animal exploitation that you are probably already familiar with.

It is important to realize who is keeping these bees. You may have an image in your mind of a man (indeed, 5% of US beekeepers are women (Hoff & Schertz Willett, 10)) with a few hives out in his backyard. While that is in fact the proper image of most beekeepers, most honey comes from full-time factory bee farmers; check out some illustrative charts.

Hundreds of queen bees in cages waiting to be shipped. A successor queen Click to see a queen bee. is selected by a human instead of the reigning queen--both of whom may have been "artificially inseminated." "Queens can live for as long as five years but most commercial beekeepers replace them every two years" (Shimanuki & Sheppard, 181) (and often yearly). Yes, "replace" is a euphemism for killing the old queen. Backyard beekeepers also regularly kill their queens. This is done for numerous reasons that all boil down to exerting control over the hive. For example, it is done to prevent swarming, aggression, mite infestation, and to keep honey production at a maximum. Queens come from commercial queen suppliers. The image is hundreds of queens with a few nursing bees in individual cages waiting to be flown around the country (Beekeeping). Travel can be rough on the queens; according to Eric Mussen, a UC Davis Extension Apiculturist, "Once at the post office or shipping depot, nearly anything can happen. Queens can be over heated, chilled, left out in the sun for hours (desiccated), banged around in baggage compartments, and exposed to insecticides. Often, the post office or shipping hub fails to contact the customer when the queens arrive and they may sit in storage for days. It is surprising that the queens come through as well as they do" (Mussen). Finally, colonies (hives) are routinely split in half according to what the keeper wants, not the queen.

When manipulating the bees, most beekeepers use a smoker to maintain control and to prevent some stings. The smoke gets the bees to gorge themselves on honey, which calms them down. The smoke probably also masks the alarm pheromone that the guard bees release and prevents the entire colony from becoming agitated.

During the fall and winter a mouse guard is often placed over the entrance to the hive. Usually, the bees drag their dead out of the hive, but the mouse guard often prevents this from happening. Beekeepers are warned, "it is helpful to remove any pileup of dead bees behind the mouse guard once or twice during the winter" (Bonney, 116).

Some bees even get to travel all around the country in trucks like the one pictured below or on larger flatbed trailers (Beekeeping). Beekeepers follow the nectar flows to increase honey production.

You may have the impression that since the bees are not fenced in like cattle, they are free to leave if they wanted to. Read about swarming to understand why this common argument is false. Bees forced to ride around in a truck.

There often a lack of regard for the bees' lives. In the US, 10 to 20 percent of colonies are lost over the winter. It is partly by accident and partly on purpose. Some beekeepers kill off their hives before winter. This practice can make economic sense. Unfortunately, it is not the small backyard beekeeper, but rather the large, factory bee farmer, so a lot of bees are killed even if most beekeepers don't use the practice. Also, in the process of checking up on the hive and taking the honey, some bees get squashed by the frames or stepped on. Bees who sting the keeper in defense of their home necessarily die. If two colonies are combined, the queen of the weaker colony is killed. So that the honey can be easily removed from the comb, it is often warmed prior to removal. "Bees brought into the warming room with the supers will fly to a window where they can be trapped to the outside by a wire cone or bee escape. If there are no windows in the room other methods such as an electric grid can be used to dispose of the stray bees" (Root, 121 emphasis added).

Stealing Honey

So what do the captives do with their time? In the words of the National Honey Board, "Honey is 'manufactured' in one of the world's most efficient factories, the beehive. Bees may travel as far as 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just a pound of honey" (NHB). Bees gather pollen in sacs Click to see a bee with full pollen sacs. and nectar from the flowers. Honey is stored in the hive as winter food for the bees Click to see bees eating their honey.. Yes, sometimes they make more than they can eat, but do the beekeepers only take the extra? No, according to James E. Tew, an Extension Specialist in Apiculture at Ohio State University in Wooster, "Commercial beekeepers frequently extract [steal] all fall-season honey and then feed colonies either sugar syrup or corn syrup in quantities great enough to provide all the winter food the bees would need" (Tew). (Everyone steals most of the spring-season honey.) Theft of all of the fall-season honey is merely the most blatant form of exploitation. Bees are also often fed in the fall in preparation for winter and in the spring and early summer to ensure the hive gets off to a good start (Bonney, 131; Vivian, 101). That is, to make the bees start working earlier than they would normally. The sugar that is fed in the fall is turned into honey by the bees, so even if a beekeeper tells you their bees survive on honey over the winter, much of that honey may have simply come from Ziplock bags full of sugar water. A typical hive in the UK uses at least 8 kg (17.6 lbs.) of sugar per year (Consumers in Europe Group, 21). In the US, a typical figure can be 25 lbs. (So if by chance you don't eat bone char processed cane sugar, but do eat honey, you're not doing a lot of good in terms of reducing the demand for sugar.) Some people claim the sugar water is better for the bees than honey, and if this is the case, I don't want to hear any claims about the health benefits of honey or pollen. Sugar water may be better if the bees had particularly poor nectar sources in the fall, but this would not normally be a problem if their spring honey hadn't been stolen. Honey is more than sugars; it contains very small (by human standards) amounts of fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals that bees' bodies might like to use over the winter.

Another thing to keep in mind is the history of beekeeping (Crane). Honeybees are unique in that they are not domesticated despite a very long relationship with humans. For most of human history, honey was gathered from wild hives. Beekeeping began only 10,000 years ago. Bees were kept in logs, baskets, and pots all lying horizontally to the ground. Bees were also kept in trees in forests and by hanging containers in trees. Eventually in Europe and Asia they turned the containers upright. The earliest recorded use of hives with moveable frames was in 1682 where top bar hives were used in Greece. In nature, bees build combs that hang from the roof of their dwelling and everything is stationary Click to see a bee hive in the wild.. In top bar hives, the bees build their combs on a wooden bar such that individual combs can be removed by pulling up individual bars. The combs retain their natural U shape at the bottom Click to see a frame from a top bar hive.. These top bar hives were not very widespread. It was not until 1851 that the modern Langstroth hive Click to see Langstroth hives. was invented (where else but in America). Here the combs fill up entire frames (like a window screen) and are rectangular. This makes hives stackable and since the frames are of universal size, they can be interchanged between hives and prepared by humans. Additionally, honey extraction equipment can be built due to the standard size. A queen excluder is generally used to keep the queen from laying eggs in the area where the beekeeper only wants honey stored. Additional frames can be added as necessary to allow for and encourage excess honey production. Needless to say, the Langstroth hive caught on very quickly and is the hive of choice today. New technology is on the horizon that allows even greater efficiency in extracting honey (Lomas). So if a beekeeper tells you that they are only continuing an ancient tradition, keep in mind that the practices they are using are only 100 years old and are radically different from the methods that existed for millennia. They also have nothing in common with non-Western beekeeping methods that emphasize humility, respect, and truly being part of nature, as opposed to managing nature for human gain.

Beekeepers will naturally deny that they are slave owners who steal the products of the bees' labor. They will tell you that they are working with the bees to help them reach their full potential, which just happens to be measured in honey output. (Hmm, remind anyone of recombinant bovine growth hormone?) In addition to being horribly paternalistic, the beekeeper's perspective makes little sense. Under natural conditions, if the hive were producing a surplus, they would divide into two colonies and there would be none wasted. Nonetheless, it is important to regard beekeepers as potential allies. They are often more aware of environmental concerns than other people and may truly care about their bees. A few simple changes in their attitudes would likely make their behavior acceptable to vegans, although making those changes is not a simple thing. They would need to stop regarding themselves as beeKEEPERS. They would also need to recognize that their role is largely temporary, as a stop gap measure until farmers get their act together and facilitate the growth of native pollinator populations. They should immediately switch to top bar hives, discourage surplus honey production and stop stealing honey. Otherwise, there is too much incentive to exploit the bees and the environment. Top bar hives are less high tech than Langstroth hives, result in less surplus honey, and the users generally have a different mindset (Satterfield; Caldeira). Keep these things in mind if you are thinking buying locally grown honey from a small apiary--although they are better than large commercial apiaries, they still may share many of the objectionable philosophies. (How much respect can you have for someone if you are taking advantage of her?) Finally, beekeeping varies due to the different environments in which it occurs. Beekeepers are an opinionated group (like vegans). Just because one beekeeper tells you that one of the practices I've described is crazy and something he would never do, doesn't mean that another beekeeper thinks he is crazy not to.

"Products" of the Hive

So how exactly is honey made? The bees swallow nectar into their crop, regurgitate it, add enzymes (spit), chew, swallow and repeat many times. Not a pretty picture.... Beekeepers get very defensive about this aspect of honey. One told me "Honey is not a regurgitant. Regurgitation is a digestive process." Ok, well, whatever you call it they still swallow it and spit it back up. And they do partially digest it, so I don't see how it's not a digestive process. He went on to tell me "If you have a problem with nature's processes perhaps you should stay out of nature," which makes me wonder why he has a problem with me pointing out nature's processes to others. The bottom line is that beekeepers get mad that I mention how honey is made, because it's something they'd rather you not think about. With one exception, this aspect of honey production is not used as a marketing tool. You can't even find out how honey is made at the National Honey Board's website!

Of course, honey is not the only product of bee exploitation. The following are other bee products to watch out for:

  • Bee venom is obtained when the bee stings someone or something. The bee dies if she stings someone.

  • Bee pollen is pollen collected by bees. It also contains some nectar and bee saliva. It is popular because humans cannot collect such a wide variety of pollen.

  • Royal jelly is the nutritious food (for bees) fed only to the queen. It literally makes workers into queens.

  • Beeswax is secreted by bees to build their hives.

  • Propolis is plant resin collected by bees and mixed with enzymes. It is used around the hive as glue and as an antiseptic.

  • Bee brood are bees that are not fully developed. Not even vegetarian.

You Can Make a Difference

The average American consumes 1.1 lb. (0.5 kg) of honey annually (National Honey Board). The average person in the UK consumes 0.3 kg (0.66 lb.) a year (Consumers in Europe Group, 21). Germans consume a whopping 4.3 kg (9.5 lb.) a year (Sue Bee). Honey is the main source of income for beekeepers (Hoff, 4). According to Hachiro Shimanuki and Walter Sheppard of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, "In recent years the honey bee industry in the United States has faced many difficult problems. Foreign honey imports and lower honey prices coupled with increased costs of production have created considerable financial challenge." However, they went on to say that "Fortunately, the demand for one of the direct products of the insect, honey, shows signs of increasing" (Shimanuki & Sheppard, 184).

Just like the "meat" and "dairy" industries, the beekeeper's have their own National Honey Board designed to promote honey using a $3 million dollar budget. Unfortunately, it seems to be working. In addition to the hordes of mainstream products adding honey, say Grey Poupon Honey Mustard, Honey Wheaties, Hidden Valley Honey and Bacon French Dressing, etc., honey dominates the health food market. The National Honey Board is currently on a campaign to increase honey consumption by about 20% in the next four years and one of their main strategies is the following: "Encourage the widespread use of honey in 'healthy lifestyles' by positioning honey as both a healthy food and as an ingredient in products with medicinal value" (NHB). "A shift in strategic focus to position honey as a 'healthy' product that should be used as an ingredient in foods and medicines aimed at health-conscious individuals" (NHB). Their use of the word "healthy" in quotes says it all--it's all a lie, it's just a marketing tool.

Do you think no one will notice if you eat honey? I assure you, they are watching closely! The National Honey Board newsletter always ends with a section listing new products containing honey. They even go so far as to monitor sales of honey products with respect to similar honey-free products. I strongly recommend viewing the National Honey Board Handbook (pdf) for a sampling of their work.

Of course it's not always enough to not eat something. Why not let companies know you're not buying their products because they have honey in them? This is a particularly urgent issue in the "health food" area since there are an increasing number of products containing honey that would otherwise be vegan. You can email companies from the feedback page.

Common Questions

Don't honeybees pollinate agricultural crops and are otherwise good for the environment? Actually, bees are harmful to the environment. That link also covers the comparative environmental impact of honey versus other sweeteners.

But don't you kill other bugs?

What about free range honey? If you want free range honey you would have to go out into the woods and stick your hand in a bees' hive and grab some for yourself. Of course, you probably won't find a colony because they've all been killed off (see the environment section). If you did find one, the theft would destroy their home and you'd get some nice stings. Unless of course, you are part of a culture that has a sustainable (i.e. thousands of years old) tradition of respectfully gathering honey like that found in the Malaysian rainforest where honey hunters climb 100 foot trees to take honey from the giant Apis dorsata (Buchmann & Nabham, 145).

But isn't honey (or pollen or royal jelly) good for you? Doesn't it prevent allergies? Don't bee stings cure MS? Isn't honey more nutritious than sugar? Check out the health aspects of honeybee products.

But what do I eat/wear/burn/floss with instead of honey and beeswax?

Further Information

I recommend reading the following:

  • Honey Bee Temperament Honeybees sting.

  • Fall Feeding Yes, beekeepers really do feed their bees sugar.

  • Bee Talk A lifelong beekeeper talks about how bees are quite intelligent.

  • Toward an Appropriate Beehive A must read for those concerned with industrialization. An alternative beekeeper points out the evils of traditional beekeeping. Also, some large-scale beekeepers kill off their hives before winter.

  • How bees make honey by Claude Needham Ph.D. Did you know each droplet of nectar is swallowed and regurgitated fifty times?

  • For those of you who have the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, check out the section on honeybees. You can learn all about bees and it has a great animation that shows the complex bee dances. (When bees find food, they go back to the hive and do a specific dance to let the rest of the hive know exactly where to go to find the flowers.)

  • A brief introduction to bee life.

http://www.vegetus.org/honey/honey.htm

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