So, back in “To Veg for Sure (x29)“, I parsed my vegan journey and told y’all that I would be cutting out honey and beeswax from my diet. But I didn’t exactly explain why. And then my fiancee asked me why the other day, and I realized that it had been so long since I’d made the decision that I forgot the specifics and I looked like a total dumbass. To be fair, decent articles on beekeeping that come from legitimate sources are difficult to find (even now, I’m struggling finding the exact one my fiancee and I uncovered the other night about how beekeepers will remove body parts from the bees – something we had to Google image search because we couldn’t figure out why the hell you’d cut body parts off of something so damn small). TLC produced a rather reputable looking article (despite citing PETA as a source) that pretty much summed up my line of thinking when I made the decision to give up honey and beeswax:
I know what some of you are thinking: They’re just bees. Lighten up. It just so happens that bees are extremely intelligent and studies have demonstrated that they feel pain . Plus, the standard retort of “they’re only insects” ignores the above description of why some people would adopt a compassionate vegan lifestyle in the first place.
It was the “they’re only insects” comment that got to me. In my experience, the “but they’re only (insert marginalized group here)” argument really never ends well. That being said, the whole Colony Collapse Disorder is some pretty freaky shit as well:
Recent events have provided the most powerful–and very, very green–reason why the earth-friendly crowd might refrain from honey consumption: Colony Collapse Disorder . Like many things about nature, we humans take honeybees for granted. But, as we’re learning , a major portion of our food relies on bees at the critical early stages of its development…
The cause (or causes) of CCD are not yet understood . Some of the proposed causes include “environmental change-related stresses malnutrition, pathogens (i.e., disease including Israel acute paralysis virus), mites, pesticides such as neonicotinoids or imidacloprid, genetically modified (GM) crops with pest control characteristics such as transgenic maize, and migratory beekeeping.”
What does drizzling some honey on your morning granola have to do with all this? Here’s PETA again: “BeeCulture magazine reports that beekeepers are notorious for contributing to the spread of disease: ‘Beekeepers move infected combs from diseased colonies to healthy colonies, fail to recognize or treat disease, purchase old infected equipment, keep colonies too close together, [and] leave dead colonies in apiaries.’ Artificial diets, provided because farmers take the honey that bees would normally eat, leave bees susceptible to sickness and attack from other insects. When diseases are detected, beekeepers are advised to ‘destroy the colony and burn the equipment,’ which can mean burning or gassing the bees to death.”
I get a shit ton of e-mails from progressive think tanks and organizations and let me tell you, hippies are freaking out over CCD and asking me to sign petitions left and right – and with good reason. It would really, really suck if bees all of a sudden weren’t around helping us make our food. Plus, y’know, factory farming is pretty sucky, even if you’re “just” a bug. Overall, I just can’t justify using a product that humans don’t even actually need that results from cruel and/or unnatural treatment of animals, in addition to one that has such stark environmental consequences. Normally, animal welfare is the key behind my vegan lifestyle and the environmental benefits are a bonus, but in this case it’s almost more important to me that we wipe out CCD before we’re pulling a Dinosaur and fucking up our ability to produce food beyond repair.