Although there were 3,500 native bee species of bees pollinating the flowers and food crops of North America when European settlers landed on its shores in the 17th century, the colonists were interested only in their Old World honeybees’ wax and honey.
Bees heads are CRUSHED so workers can steal their semen and use it to forcibly impregnate queen bees.
They imported the insects, and by the mid-1800s, both feral and domesticated colonies of honeybees were scattered all over the United States. As a result of disease, pesticides, and climate changes, the honeybee population has been nearly decimated, but since the demand for the bees’ honey and other products remains high, these tiny animals are raised by industries, much like chickens, pigs, and cows are.
The Complex Lives of Bees
A honeybee hive consists of tens of thousands of bees, each with his or her own mission that is determined by the bee’s sex and age as well as by the time of year. Each hive usually has one queen, hundreds of drones, and thousands of workers. Queens can live for as long as five years, while other bees have life spans ranging from a few weeks to six months.
Worker bees are responsible for feeding the brood, caring for the queen, building comb, foraging for nectar and pollen, and cleaning, ventilating, and guarding the hive. The drones serve the queen, who is responsible for reproduction.
She lays about 250,000 eggs each year—and as many as 1 million over the course of her lifetime.
When a new queen is about to be born, the old queen and half the hive leave their old home and set up in a new place that scouting worker bees have found.
As the temperature drops in the winter, the bees cluster around the queen and the young, using their body heat to keep the temperature inside the hive steady at around 93 degrees F.
A language all their own
Bees have a unique and complex form of communication-based on sight, motion, and scent that scientists and scholars are working to understand. Bees alert other members of their hive to food, new hive locations, and conditions within their hive (such as nectar supply) through intricate “dance” movements.
Studies have shown that bees are capable of abstract thinking as well as distinguishing their family members from other bees in the hive, using visual cues to map their travels, and finding a previously used food supply, even when their home has been moved.
And similar to the way that smells can invoke powerful memories in for humans, they can also trigger memories in bees, such as memories of where the best food can be found.
Why Bees Need to Keep Their Honey
Plants produce nectar to attract pollinators (bees, butterflies, bats, and other mammals), who are necessary for successful plant reproduction.
Bees collect and use nectar to make honey, which provides vital nourishment for them, especially during the winter. Since nectar contains a lot of water, bees have to work to dry it out, and they add enzymes from their own bodies to convert it into food and prevent it from going bad.
A single worker bee may visit up to 10,000 flowers in one day and, in her lifetime, produce only a teaspoonful of honey.
Honeybees do not pollinate as well as native bees
Approximately one out of every four mouthfuls of food or drink that humans consume is made possible by pollinators—insects, birds, and mammals pollinate about 75 percent of all food crops.
Industrial beekeepers want consumers to believe that honey is just a byproduct of the necessary pollination provided by honeybees, but honeybees are not as good at pollinating as many truly wild bees, such as bumblebees and carpenter and digger bees.
Native bees are active earlier in the spring, both males and females pollinate, and they are not affected by stressors such as colony collapse disorder. But because most species of native bees hibernate for as many as 11 months out of the year and do not live in large colonies, they do not produce massive amounts of honey, and the little that they do produce is not worth the effort required to steal it from them.
So although native bees are more effective pollinators, farmers continue to rely on honeybees for pollination so that the honey industry can take in more than 152 million pounds of honey every year, at a value of more than $333 million.
Profiting from honey requires the manipulation and exploitation of the insects’ desire to live and protect their hive. Like other factory-farmed animals, honeybees are victims of unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation, and stressful transportation.
The familiar white box that serves as a beehive has been around since the mid-1850s and was created so that beekeepers could move the hives from place to place. The New York Times reported that bees have been “moved from shapes that accommodated their own geometry to flat-topped tenements, sentenced to life in file cabinets.”
Since “swarming” (the division of the hive upon the birth of a new queen) can cause a decline in honey production, beekeepers do what they can to prevent it, including clipping the wings of a queen. Queens are artificially inseminated using drones, who are killed in the process.
Commercial beekeepers also “trick” queens into laying more eggs by adding wax cells to the hive that are larger than those that worker bees would normally build.
Avoid honey, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, and other products that come from bees. Vegan lip balms and candles are readily available.
Visit CaringConsumer.com for a list of companies that don’t use animal products.
Agave nectar, rice syrup, molasses, sorghum, barley malt, maple syrup, and dried fruit or fruit concentrates can be used to replace honey in recipes.
And I mean…As a food, honey can easily be identified on supermarket shelves.
But many cosmetic companies- that claim to be vegan- use beeswax for their products, which we often overlook or fail to declare.
So be careful when buying cosmetics too.
The same applies to palm oil, which is used massively in food, but also in cosmetic products, and it is therefore very difficult to find some companies that do not use it.
Nowadays you have to train your eyes very well.
My best regards to all, Venus