Production of Honey is cruelty to Bees


Maneka Gandhi


(Bihar Times) In one of my favourite books , “ So Long and Thanks for all the Fish” by Douglas Adams, the first sign of the end of the world is that the dolphins disappear. In reality it is when the bees leave. And that they are doing. Over the last 3 years , 70% of the bees have disappeared from their manmade hives. No bodies have been found, no reasons have been found by scientists for this extraordinary disappearance called Colony Collapse Disorder. Let me tell you the reason why I think the bees simply called it quits and went to the great Beeworld in the Sky.

Honey is what bees vomit out. This bee vomit has been given many mythical properties of health. Unfortunately these attributes have caused the suffering and death of millions of bees.

Bees are victims of the same cruel treatment given to animals in the animal food industry. They are pushed into boxes , given invasive   examinations, handled crudely, given artificial food, drugs and pesticides,manipulated  genetically, grown through artificial insemination, transported by air, rail and road and then killed.

When beekeepers handle combs many bees are crushed and killed. Hives have smoke puffed into them to make bees dizzy and easier to handle. Special devices are attached to hives to collect bee products from bees as they enter their hives. Bees are separated from their hives by being shaken vigorously or thrown out with powerful streams of air. They may have their legs and wings clipped off. Queen bees have their wings clipped to prevent them from flying off.

When it is not profitable to keep bees through the winter they are killed.  One way is by dousing the hive with petroleum, then burning it.  Other times they are simply left to starve to death, after the honey is taken.  Hives are burned when there is a disease outbreak.  Some bees are killed because they eat honey but do not do enough work.

Like cows and chickens, bees are used as biomachines to make a product for human consumption.  Like all forms of slavery in the modern world, they are seen only for their use-value, or how they serve to benefit their "owner."  They can only gather a tiny amount of pollen in each trip, 75,000 miles of travel to gather enough pollen to produce just one pound of honey.  They do all of this work to create food for their own consumption alone; not for that of human beings. If bees were human, this abusive treatment would be considered, by all, to be slavery.

A bee is a living, breathing creature.  The act of taking away food produced for themselves is robbery with armed force because the bees do not give honey – in fact they defend it being taken away.  In order for bees to survive when the honey is stolen, a white sugar syrup is given to them.  This substitute is not nutritionally adequate for the bee and chronic malnutrition leaves them exposed to disease.  Because of this, antibiotics like Tetracycline, Terramycin and Sodium Sulfathiosole are mixed with the sugar substitute.  The hives are sprayed with synthetic pesticides to kill bacteria which might harm the weakened bees. 

Queen bees are artificially inseminated with sperm obtained from decapitated bees. The Queens are slaughtered every two years as their egg producing abilities decline due to the bad diet.  The successor queen is selected by a human instead of the reigning queen and is artificially inseminated. Queens come from commercial queen suppliers. The queens with a few nursing bees are kept in cages and taken around the country. Travel can be rough on the queens; they can be over heated, chilled, left out in the sun for hours , banged around in baggage compartments. Hives which are families of bees from the same mother are routinely split in half according to what the keeper wants, not the queen.

The food industry has used these artificially managed honeybees to pollinate crops because wild bees and other insects (who would naturally pollinate crops) have been destroyed by housing developments, industrial pollution, pesticide poisoning, intensive farming practices, destruction of hedgerows, etc. The use of honeybees for pollination is now big business . Commercial beekeepers move hives to get pollination fees. Bees are bought and sold worldwide resulting in the bees (and their hives) being transported hundreds or thousands of miles. Transportation means bees may suffer stress, suffocation, overheating or cold. Many die in their packaged coffins. Bees are transported to strange countries and cause problems in those natural environments. They are subsequently treated as feral and nests are destroyed by pouring petrol in hives or killed by spraying with liquid soap. On top of all this , their honey is taken away.

The honey industry is for nothing. Like the meat trade, it is simply producing a product that gives you nothing and causes so much suffering and environmental stress. Honey is no health food.  It is simply another sweetener.  It is not a significant source of any nutrient except calories. Although it contains trace amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals, they are so dilute that honey essentially lacks any nutritional value except for its calorie content. It is 98% sugar and therefore can be easily substituted. In fact a nutritional comparison shows that demerara sugar is higher in minerals, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, copper and chlorine. All the insecticides, fungicides, and pollutants in the nectar the bees collect are concentrated in the honey.  Beekeepers often use toxic chemicals in commercially kept hives to kill mites.  Although honey does not spoil, it is often contaminated with bacteria, molds, and fungi. So many people are allergic to it without knowing.

Bee pollen is another advertising scam that has bled many pockets. I will go into that another time. For now , stop taking part in the useless cruelty that is honey.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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