Food

7 Reasons Why Buying Honey Hurts Bees

1. Bees used for honey aren’t treated very nicely.

Just like pigs, cows, chickens, and other animals who are factory-farmed, bees are often treated poorly, injured, and forced to live in cramped conditions, and they must endure the stress of being transported.

Worker-Collecting-Honey

When a new queen bee is about to be born, a process called “swarming” occurs, when the old queen and half the colony leave their home. They set up in a new place that worker bees have found for them to begin a new colony. Since swarming means that less honey will be produced, many beekeepers try to prevent it—often by clipping the delicate wings of the new queen or killing and replacing the older queen (1,2,3).

2. Bees are hurt in the process of collecting honey.

When bee farmers collect honey, they’re often careless and end up tearing off the bees’ sensitive wings and legs. Farmers also cut off the queen bee’s wings to make sure that she can’t leave the hive. Can you imagine if someone ripped off your arms or legs? Talk about ouch! =(

3. Bees are needed in the wild to keep plants growing!

Bee-On-Flower

Plants make nectar to attract pollinators (bees, butterflies, bats, and other mammals). These buzzin’ bugs (and mammals) naturally pollinate plants and play a huge role in helping new ones to grow. If bees are imprisoned by the honey industry, how will nature’s plants continue to reproduce?!

4. Honey is for the bees, NOT us!

Bees need their honey to survive in the winter. It’s made with certain nutrients that they must have, and a colony needs around 60 pounds of honey in order to make it through the cold months. Oftentimes, large honey businesses will take a hive’s honey and replace it with a cheap sugar substitute that’s not as healthy for the insects.

In colder areas, if the keepers consider it too costly to keep the bees alive through the winter, they destroy the hives by setting them on fire. We don’t know about you, but we would be pretty sad if someone set our homes on fire just because it got cold outside!

5. Honey is sold to make money, not to help the bees.

Spoon in Honey

Bees are overworked just so that large organizations can make money from their honey. That’s like if you worked really hard to create something and then someone else stole it from you, sold it, and even kept the money. So not cool.

6. Speaking of hard workers …

Bees are just that! A single worker bee may visit up to 10,000 flowers in one day. That’s a lot of flowers! But even after visiting so many plants, they produce only about one teaspoonful of honey. That goes to show just how precious honey is to bees.

Bees each have a specific job to do, depending on things like their age, whether they’re male or female, and the time of year. By interfering, humans can really mess up their system.

7. Stealing is wrong.


We think we can all agree on that. So why is it OK for people to steal bees’ precious honey from them? The answer is easy: It’s not! Bees need their honey to live, and we don’t. It’s as simple as that!

How You Can Help

It’s not hard to bee a hero for these awesome insects! You can simply avoid lip balms, candles, and other products that include ingredients like honey, beeswax, propolis (or “bee glue”), and royal jelly.

There are also tons of humane alternatives to honey, like agave nectar, rice syrup, molasses, maple syrup, and dried fruits and fruit concentrates that can help keep your diet sweet and bee-free!

  1. Norbert M. Kauffeld, “Seasonal Cycle of Activities in Honey Bee Colonies,” Beekeeping in the United States, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Handbook Number 335 (1980): 30–2.
  2. Anne Raver, “Bees Buzz a Path to His Hive,” The New York Times 31 May 2001.
  3. British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, “Apiculture Factsheet,” Factsheet #404, Nov. 2005.