Why Vegans are Wrong

honey-dripping-from-spoon

Product of abuse?

I have a vegan acquaintance. He is a mild, considerate, and generally pleasant young man. He thinks that beekeeping is cruel and inhumane. He tells me that honey-eating encourages theft and the abuse, imprisonment and exploitation of insects. “Tell me more,” I said.

Vegans, my friend told me, feel that if you eat honey, you harm the environment and you injure your health. I think that my friend and others like him make these false statements because they don’t know how honey is made nor how bees are kept. Such narrow thoughts give reasonable vegetarians a bad name. Much misinformation is rooted in an almost cult-like adherence to dogma created by the revered Donald Watson, founder of the vegan movement.

Godlike, Don Watson leads the way

cut-trees

Defenseless and dead

75 years ago, Don Watson invented the word Vegan and constructed much of the philosophy that goes with it. Mr Watson was a very, very, nasty man. Whether he hated the plant kingdom, or just didn’t know any better, is up for debate. But he savagely attacked plants of all sorts. His profession was teaching woodworking. He encouraged untold thousands of British youngsters to destroy stately trees (many over a hundred years old). He inspired them to cut down living denizens of the forest,  strip off their bark, rip into their hearts with power tools, then hammer nails through their defiled bodies. He showed people how to turn beautiful elms, oaks, and maples into bookshelves and grandiose chairs upon which to seat their bottoms.

It’s as if Watson, the first vegan, had no clue that the plants he encountered are (were) living, breathing monuments to the diversity of nature. Agreed, they don’t breathe oxygen the way we do but does that give Watson and his minions the right to recklessly consume plants? Rather than taking sustenance from animals such as bees – which aren’t killed in the process of honey-making and which help, not hurt, plants – Watson rejected honey.

Instead, Watson encouraged boiling the seedy offspring of wheat and shredding the greenery of lettuce and then eating it. Plants are defenseless. They can’t run. They can’t sting. To suggest that it’s more ethical to consume plants instead of honey is farcical, disingenuous, and wrong. Most plants are still alive when they enter a vegan’s mouth. As disgusting as this is, it’s doubly disheartening that these same people portend to subscribe to a superior lifestyle and tell others to shun honey.

And yet, largely because of Watson’s philosophy, vegans claim the ethical high ground. Because of Watson, honey is strictly forbidden. I can understand opposition to concrete zoos, factory farms with warehoused pigs, and chickens caged in tiny pens. These are obviously, ethically wrong. But when Watson wrote the rules, his enthusiasm for the rights of all other living creatures (except plants) outdistanced his common sense. [Some Vegans seem to venerate Watson as a god (something that would probably have amused the deceased agnostic) so I expect to get some vicious e-mail from these gentle people.]  Watson hadn’t bothered to understand the way bees are actually cared for by millions of backyard beekeepers.

About bees

abandoned-nestUnlike plants, bees can defend themselves against wanton abuse. Most hobby beekeepers would never kill a single bee. Bees are absolutely free to range over kilometres of wildflowers. Bees return each night to their hives, which are boxes that keep bees safe, dry, and warm. If they didn’t want to return, they wouldn’t. But time after time, they come back to the beekeepers’ boxes. Beekeepers have experimentally placed empty beekeepers’ boxes alongside trees – bees select the boxes as their preferred homes. But bees can leave whenever they want.

The fuzzy photo to the left shows wild combs, hanging in a birch tree. This was built by bees which died of exposure. I took the picture in Pennsylvania, years ago. I wish I had found them in time to put them into a safe dry warm bee box where they would have survived and flourished. On their own, subject to cold and rain, they died.

Bees produce thousands of grams of honey during a season but beekeepers remove just a fraction of it in exchange for giving the bees a safe home. Beekeepers don’t ‘take all the bees’ honey’ as I’ve read on various vegan sites because if they did, the bees would die. Dead bees are not the beekeeper’s objective. (Though dead trees are certainly a woodworker’s.)

Some vegan websites lament that beekeepers feed sugar and corn syrup to bees, which the vegans correctly tell us are not as healthy as honey. Those complainants should learn something about ecology. There are seasons when honey bees can’t find food on their own. Even in sunny Florida, where I worked alongside bees for about ten years, dearths happen in mid-summer when citrus trees, gallberry, palmetto, and pepperbush aren’t in bloom. Without a friendly beekeeper feeding the bees, the bees die. Now I live in Canada. Here, after seven months of cold and ice each year, hives often run short of food in April.  Without flowers, bees die. So beekeepers feed them. Without beekeepers, there would be no honey bees in western Canada.

Is honey healthy?

bee-in-flightVegans tell us that honey is healthier than sugar or corn syrup for bees; yet they also claim that honey is not healthy for people. Let’s remind them that honey is actually a healthy food. Bees collect nectar from flowers. The nectar is sucrose plus some fructose and glucose. Bees continue the job that flowers started, using enzymes to convert nearly all the disaccharides (sucrose) into simpler monosaccharides – fructose and glucose. These simpler sugars are much better for the diets of bees and humans (and bears, raccoons, badgers, and other mammals). Honey is healthier. Perhaps it’s the healthiest sugar people can eat. It’s certainly the least environmentally intrusive.

If honey is healthy, why do vegans say it’s not? Well, making such an unfounded claim (they hope) may reduce honey consumption, which (they think) will liberate enslaved honey bees from the hives of beekeepers. As we’ve already seen, honey bees are free to leave the beekeepers. They are already liberated. But without beekeepers, billions of honey bees would die – which, I guess, is a fate more acceptable to some vegans. So, vegan claims against honey as food are self-serving and unfounded.

And yet, many (all?) vegan websites advise against eating honey. “Even if honey were the healthiest food on the planet, there is still no reason for a vegan to consume it,” says this voice of veganism site. Alternatives are suggested. In those alternatives we find the real Achilles’ heel of veganism.

On this page, you will find approved alternatives to honey. These include coconut sugar and molasses. Want to really hurt the environment and kill animals? Then do what the vegans recommend and use coconut sugar and molasses. Have it processed in a food factory and shipped halfway around the world to reach you.

A vegan wants you to eat plants, of course. But, unless vegans are incredibly naive, and have no clue at all about farming (even ‘organic’ farming), vegans miss the point that trillions of insects – from worms to beetles – die in the production of the rice and barley syrup, and the beet and cane sugar which they think you should eat. Farmers must rip through the soil and control insects that would eat their crops. They dislodge mice and lizards to make way for the cane and beets that will end up as molasses. The pursuit of coconut sugar has led to deforestation and death for millions of animals. I know that some hope/think/pretend that they are buying ethically-produced food, but too often they are simply buying secular indulgences to assuage their conscience – they are still getting food that required the death of insects, and sometimes mammals. And these substitutes are produced on the other side of the globe while honey can be purchased locally, greatly reducing the environmental footprint.  Only honey can be produced without harming or killing animals. Yet vegans refuse to concede this because it would go against their tribal allegiance to the philosophical proclamations of Donald Watson – regardless of how wrong he may have been on some points.

No free passes

I was a vegetarian for over a year and it was a healthy, energized year. I was not a vegan. As a vegetarian, I ate honey. I used a little cheese and milk in some veggie dishes. Today, I eat fish. In a social setting, I might eat other meat, but sparingly. I think it’s smart for the environment and healthy for the body to eat a wide variety of foods, but only a little or no meat. It’s certainly healthier for the livestock.  However, zealous vegans drive away potential vegetarians. Vegan hypocrisy is a turn-off and has probably resulted in a bigger backlash against animal rights and against reasonable vegetarianism than it has resulted in new memberships in the vegan fan club. For that, I hold the woodcutter Don Watson and some of his followers responsible.

Nor will I give a free pass to all beekeepers everywhere. It’s true that some beekeepers – hobbyists and commercial – aren’t as careful with bees as they need to be. That’s what the vegans tell us when they raise their concerns. But most are not reckless and I’ve never met any beekeeper who disliked bees; they want the best for bee welfare – and I have met hundreds more beekeepers than any vegan ever has. Honey bees are thriving because beekeepers are keeping them alive and healthy. That’s what beekeepers want. Further, beekeepers don’t eat their bees, nor do they make furniture out of them. And that’s more than can be said about Don Watson and his relationship with trees.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a geophysicist who also does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has written two books, dozens of magazine and journal articles, and complements his first book, Bad Beekeeping, with a popular blog at www.badbeekeeping.com. Ron wrote his most recent book, The Mountain Mystery, for everyone who has looked at a mountain and wondered what miracles of nature set it upon the landscape. For more about Ron, including some cool pictures taken when he was a teenager, please check Ron's site: miksha.com.
This entry was posted in Culture, or lack thereof, Ecology, History, Honey, Strange, Odd Stuff and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Why Vegans are Wrong

  1. George and Tammy says:

    I think a lot of this is parody and its funny enough. But were curious about you saying you a vegetarian that eats meat “in a social setting?” Whats that – peer Pressure?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Thanks for commenting. I admit that this blog is about half satire. The point is that people sometimes follow dogma religiously – without thinking. Coming back to the vegan movement’s founder, Donald Watson, he was, for example, a pacifist. When World War II began, he was an able-bodied 29-year-old. I can see sticking by your convictions if there’s a bar-room brawl or if your country invades some other country for no reason. But he was a Brit, London was being bombed, and brown-shirted Nazi thugs were slaughtering innocent people. He should have fought. Similarly, too many people don’t think critically or think for themselves. If the tribe says “don’t eat honey” but eat coconut sugar and molasses, then that’s what they do – without investigating and reasoning and weighing the evidence.
      Yes, I eat meat occasionally. Here in Canada, we just had Thanksgiving, and I had some turkey. If I eat out at a restaurant, I order vegetarian or fish. But if I visit someone who is unaware of my quirky habits and they’ve gone through the work of making a special dinner, I eat a little of everything. I know that purists will disagree, but this isn’t a mindless dogma for me. It’s a healthy and environmentally positive choice and I’m 90% there. For one year, I was 100% vegetarian, now it’s 90%. Shame on me, eh?

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  2. Garry Neufeld says:

    “carrots scream when you pull them out of the ground”.. L Cohen…..which reminds me that mine are still mostly in the garden and I should go dig them. We keep ours in peat moss and they usually stay crisp until Feb or so, it also quiets them down a bit. ….. I enjoy your posts Ron.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Thanks! Appreciate the comments!
      Do you use reddit? It would be great to have you or other readers plug favourites at https://www.reddit.com/r/Beekeeping/ if you like a post!
      I’m a fan of Leonard Cohen, but don’t remember the screaming carrots… what was that from?
      – Ron

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      • Garry Neufeld says:

        beautiful losers i think, I read that before i was twenty and I’m pushing sixty five now, funny how some things stay with you. One of my daughters pulled this off reddit and sent it to me the other day, not about bees but i enjoyed it, cheers garry….https://www.maa.org/external_archive/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf

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      • Ron Miksha says:

        Wow, thanks again for your comments – I’d never read the Mathematician’s Lament before, but tonight, thanks to your link, I have. I like the leading parables. The entire lament is so well crafted, filled with powerful gems and a clear strong argument. About halfway through there is a diagram of a triangle inside a semicircle. When I finished reading the paper, I called my ten-year-old daughter over to see the diagram. “Look, Helen, do you see how the triangles are all right-angled?” She said, “I know, Dad. I was playing around with some sketches a long time ago and I noticed that.” I was so moved by what she said – it was like I suddenly had renewed hope for the future of humanity. Thank you, Garry!
        – Ron

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  3. Emily Scott says:

    Sometimes I think it’s almost impossible to eat food which hasn’t harmed the environment in one way or another, unless you have space to grow all your own produce. Hobby beekeepers are usually gentle to their bees, but I dislike the commercial methods of beekeeping shown in the film ‘More than honey’, where forklifts pick up honey boxes and dump them onto mechanical production lines, which results in huge numbers of squashed bees.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      I agree. There are some rough beekeepers. Also some commercial operators who are extremely careful. The problem to me is, as you point out, it’s almost impossible to eat some food that doesn’t harm the environment. I think that honey is probably less harmful than any other food.

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  4. Ron Miksha says:

    Update/correction/change: Someone pointed out to me that I had written “plants breathe carbon dioxide” or something like that. The genius said it was stupid to write about a plant’s use of CO2 that way. (Plants metabolize oxygen, as we learned in Grade 10 biology.) Anyway, I removed the line so as not to distract people who can’t read poetry. Some people are like that.
    Others have remarked that it’s not fair to pick on Vegans. I agree. Vegans are great, I wasn’t trying to pick on them, unless they honour allegiance to dogma over introspection. It’s their philosophy that needs a deep think and that’s what this piece was about… Most people got that.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. HI, very interesting stuff about Don Watson—I am a vegan, but don’t know about any of the orthodoxy. What a horrible, hypocritical stance the guy operated from! I just don’t like the idea of taking the lives of animals for food as if they give up their lives willingly for me or anyone. But, I have struggled with vegans arguing about the honey issue, and it often seems rooted in heavy management techniques like artificially re-queening (and killing the old queen) and over harvesting. One thing most vegans of this persuasion don’t realize (and this relates to your photo of the open air hive in the birch tree) is the work I do in California saving bee colonies in conflict with humans. Extermination is the only other avenue, and by re-homing hives from trees, under shed floors, in walls and ceilings and a million other places, I save their lives and their hard work—wax combs and honey and brood. Education about this work often makes a whole new aspect of veganism appear.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What with all of the other factors that are currently killing bees, that include Zika spraying and other uses of insecticide, and such, would it not be a good idea to back of on making it harder for the bees to thrive by taking their food and making them work harder to keep up their food supply, by simply stopping taking their food, at least until the mysteries of why the bees are dying off is completely solved, removed and prevented, and bees are thriving and growing in population worldwide?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Hi Debby,

      Thanks for your comments. I understand your point – if honey bee colonies are disappearing, then leaving their honey might make their numbers increase.

      But here’s the thing – the number of colonies of honey bees has been steadily increasing. The last case of colony collapse disorder was over five years ago. Around the world, the number of bee colonies has increased over 60% in the past 50 years. Your home state – Washington – went from 44,000 hives in 2002 to 69,000 colonies last year. Canada, where I live, has never – in all its 150-year history – had as many colonies of bees. In the USA as a whole, numbers were over 3 million colonies last July. That’s up from about 2.1 million colonies just ten years ago.

      The great increase in honey bee colonies does not mean that we can ignore pollution, toxic chemicals, or climate change. It just means that beekeepers have been keeping their hives alive and numbers of colonies are increasing even while facing great obstacles. However, the thesis that leaving honey in the hives would solve “the mysteries of why the bees are dying off” is flawed because bees kept by beekeepers are not dying off. Worrying about honey bees is not a reason to avoid eating honey.

      Ron

      World Colony Count

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      • Hi Ron—I think these numbers are not a honest portrayal of the situation, and I have argued with others about the same point. First, industrial pollinator operaters have been splitting the survivors, gaining two weaker colonies from whatever managed to make it through the insults. This “numbers” assessment does not recognize quality or viability, only raw numbers. In the movie “More Than Honey” we see Dave Hackenberg shoving his survivors through a mechanical splitter. It is pretty horrific viewing. Second, the pastoralists of the world—Africa, India, SE Asia—are not economically able to keep bees on the same cycle of chemical treatments, make purchases from breeders, and transport to crops, so their numbers may add to the total but their management techniques can be no way compared to the typical migratory population used here or in Europe. As for the comments Debbie makes about taking the bees food—that is not the goal of migratory operations anyway. The insults in that model are the long distance trucking, the lack of diverse, abundant forage, the chemical treatments PUT IN the hives by the beeks, the HFCS and soy based “pollen” feeds, the synergism and residues of various pesticides, herbicides and fungicides on target crops, and the genetic inbred nature of the bees used.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ron Miksha says:

        Thanks, Susan. You have helped with your details and background. [However, I don’t think that it was David Hackenberg who was shown dividing his bees with a “mechanical splitter” but it was a west-coast beekeeper instead.] Most of your points are right. My figures on the numbers of kept honey bees are as correct as they can be (bee censuses are always a bit flawed) but you have helped explain the economics involved in those numbers. – Ron

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      • Thank you for your reply and for the update on the increase in number of bee colonies. I did not know that there is rise in the population of bees worldwide, if that is what you meant.

        I would like to clarify something.
        My original comment of “stopping taking their food, at least until the mysteries of why the bees are dying off is completely solved, removed and prevented” may be unclear or not easily understood.

        I asked why not leave the honey alone until the mysteries of the bee’s decline is solved, not “the thesis that leaving honey in the hives would solve “the mysteries of why the bees are dying off”. There is difference between these two statements and the first one is what I meant. My mentioning of leaving the honey alone is by way of giving the bees a break from having to work so hard to gather their food, when they already have so many struggles to just exist.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi, Debby—I am a beekeeper, so I should clarify what “splitting” is as a technique. A strong hive can be divided —if the hive is 4 boxes tall, two boxes may be separated to form a new colony separated from the other two. It does not matter where the queen ends up, because the hive without a queen will immediately raise a replacement. This is one way commercial migratory pollinator operations increase their hive numbers after a die off of some hives.
        Taking or leaving the honey, again, is not the goal of the great majority of hive owners in the world and is not necessarily the source of the major insults affecting honey bees. Using the hives as “service providers” (pollination services, greatly enhancing the yield of nuts or fruit) for crops is the goal and the way the charge is billed to the farmer. About $185 per 2 box stack in California for almonds. (this number could have changed this year)
        Second this remark “why the bees are dying off is completely solved, removed and prevented” will never happen in the modern world of intense, industrialized agricultural models. “…mysteries of the bee’s decline is solved,” is NOT a mystery, it is more of a inconvenience to profit that keeps the current model going. The media portrays the situation disingenuously, partly because they do not understand the biology of bees and the craft of beekeeping, so they write it is a “mystery” The problems are not a “IT” anyway, they are multifactorial (as I mentioned in my first note) It would help all pollinators, not just Apis mellifera, the European honey bee, if we kept bees ON SITE, not trucking them thousands of miles, and if farmers provided habitat (some land taken for production of the cash crop would have to yield) with diverse, non-chemically treated forage plants. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has made a intense effort to work with farmers, do research, and provide on-line education for these goals.
        Finally, this “…giving the bees a break from having to work so hard to gather their food” They will work just as hard whether the keeper takes honey or does not take honey—if none is taken, they simply put more by as excess, and will perhaps swarm. “Excess” means more than needed for dearth periods. This is the skill of the good keeper—determining what is excess and what is needed for the demands of the season and hive population. Bees don’t take breaks. Each bee passes through a series of “jobs” in her life—part of the Queen’s retinue, taking out the trash, guard bee, transporter bee, wax drawing bee, nurse bee, pollen gathering bee or nectar gathering bee—the last two generally the final, most dangerous job, since it involves leaving the safety of the hive.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the information Susan.
        I am not a “bee keeper” but I have a keen interest in them and having them thrive.

        I am wondering if there is any thinking in your comment that are an assumption, and anything you are taking for granted? And what information is missing in your comment?

        In other words, if bees could tell us in their own words what’s up, I wonder what they’d tell us. Like “Gee whiz. Please don’t smoke us out inside our homes! By Golly! Don’t you know that smoke hurts us like it can hurt you too?” ? and “Yes. We DO need a break from gathering honey! What makes this think otherwise?”? and so forth.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ron Miksha says:

        Hi Debby, Thanks very much for your questions and comments. We can ponder the potential anthropomorphic musings of honey bees but most good beekeepers are motivated to keep bees healthy and to reduce their stress. Thanks again for contributing. – Ron

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      • Hi, Debby—the honey bees we are “keeping” in America are not native to the country. They were brought with the Europeans several hundred years ago. So, much of the knowledge about their behavior has accumulated from the living with them and observing them. One of the most insightful observers was a man named Francis Huber, a Frenchman who was blind and wrote of his experiments with honey bees from 1789 to 1814. Now, you might wonder how someone without sight could do much science, but he made up for it with his brain, a dedicated wife and a dedicated assistant. His books “Huber’s New Observations Upon Bees” Vol 1 and 2 have been translated into English several time. I have Michael Bush’s version. He corrected many of the “assumptions” (since you mention them) that were common at the time regarding the social structure of the bee colony, the three categories of bees—drones, workers, Queen—and made many deeply thoughtful recordings of what bees do throughout the year in response to weather, forage and colony dynamics.
        Bees do not “gather honey” but they gather nectar and via adding enzymes and drying, turn the nectar into honey. Much of what I have learned is based on the biology of bees as studied by various scientists who wish to learn how bees navigate, see, communicate to their sisters, make collaborative decisions (bees do not operate as individuals, but as a so-called “superorganism”) identify nectar and pollen sources, and MANY other behaviors. Because of the modern age and its use of micro-electronics, scientists have been able to attach individual microchips to bees to learn some of the answers to these questions. A wonderful book to understand the many activities of a colony of honey bees is the one by Jurgen Tautz “The Buzz About Bees—Biology of a Superorganism” It is full of helpful photographs, too, and if you really want to know about honey bees (not solitary or native bees, remember, they are different) this is a great book. This is how I learned that bees do not “take breaks” from work. It is simply not their biological makeup.
        What would HELP honey bees and ALL pollinators—as well as birds, amphibians, reptiles, arthropods, soil microbes, (humans….) etc would be to stop using so many fossil fuel derived chemicals and follow a model of regenerative agriculture. This I noted in the second post already

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      • Ron Miksha says:

        Hi Susan, thanks for helping Debby and other readers understand this complicated issue. The number of kept bees correlates with the profitability of beekeeping and farming compared to other pursuits. You have done a nice job in explaining some of the things involved in beekeeping. I don’t agree with every statement, but I can understand and appreciate your points. Thanks for contributing! – Ron

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      • Hi again 🙂 Thank you for the corrections in my language of “bee keeping, and all of the references to books and other sources of information Susan.

        If I may continue along the persistent thought I am having about taking the honey from the bees, and whether or this negatively impacts them, I would like to do this here.

        From what I understand, it is the assumed “excess” honey that is taken from the bees? IF this so, what happens to the health of the bees when the “excess” remains, as opposed to when it is removed? I am also wondering about who are we to determine what is “excess”. To the bees this may be their stored up and saved up supply for some healthy reason(s)?

        Has anyone or any group actually scientifically documented any subtle and any not so subtle differences between leaving their “excess” food alone and removing all of it?

        Why do bee create this “excess” honey anyways? Is this because it is healthy for them to do do?
        IF so, when it is removed by humans, do the bees become unhealthy? If it is not removed to the bees become unhealthy?

        Do the worker bees keep on working even though they have a humanly perceived large amount of
        “excess” honey stored up already?

        When honey bees live freely of any human interaction, what happens to all of the “excess” honey?

        And so on.

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      • Hi, Debby—regarding this and the other questions you just posted “…Do the worker bees keep on working even though they have a humanly perceived large amount of
        “excess” honey stored up already?” I think I answered this in the first post back to you. Finally, you will learn much of the background to the inquiries you pose by reading from the many selections I wrote in the last post. The best way for you to get this information, as a person not able to interact with bee hives whether totally wild or managed, is to read the literature.

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      • Hi – I understand that there is literature to read, but I am cautious about reading the literature you referred me to, and here is why. I am cautious about falling into the mental trap of believing anything I read to be true, and especially when I am naive on what I am reading about.

        I have learned and observed myself and others fall into this trap and stay there, inside the limited mental confines of someone’s or some group’s limited belief system, that is ego-centric, or in this instance, does not include knowing what honey bees really want and need and is not willing to admit to this, nor even reflect on this.

        If I may, the types of questions I have asked here are ones that in your future ventures in any Q&As may be asked by others, or maybe you would like bring these types of questions up as another interesting way to think about honey bees?

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      • Hi, Debby—it’s up to you. We all have to start somewhere. I sure did. But reading does not inevitably lead to a “mental trap”

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      • Hi Susan –

        If I may, the following info I will share seems Off Topic but pertains to our discussion.

        During the past 2015-2016 US Presidential Election, I became even more interested than ever in why American citizens could not understand each others’ points of view, come to an solid agreement, could not have rational discussion based on evident facts, nor be humbly open to changing their minds if proven wrong by sound arguments. I am so interested in this that I have already taken online courses on how to teach critical thinking and am continuing into another online course as I type and post this.

        Here is how what I shared pertains to our discussion.
        I am attempting to stretch my thinking to be fair-minded and open-minded towards the honey bees’ perspectives so that I can have more empathy and compassion for them. I have already read and listened to human’s thoughts and discussion on their own human perspectives about what they THINK bees’ needs are, and I have observed humans act out these thoughts upon honey bees for years.

        My purpose is to help not only myself think more deeply about the bees but to share with this others, like I am attempting to do here. My purpose to help myself become less self-serving and justifying in my thinking and actions without laying on any guilt-trips onto myself and onto anyone else.

        There is much more to discuss along this vein, but this is enough for now.

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      • Ron Miksha says:

        Hi Debby, I’m sorry that I misinterpreted your point about removing honey/ solving bee die-off. My apologies for my mistake.
        I see that one of our readers has helped by jumping in with some very valuable information (Thank you, Susan!) The numbers of hives I gave are accurate, commerically kept (and hobby hives) have been increasing for economic reasons – beekeepers get paid for honey and for pollination and these have been modestly profitable lately, adding to the bee counts. I’m glad that Susan took the time to help clarifying this and giving some background. – Ron

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      • Ha ha!! I am stuck in the house all day today since we are experiencing a deluge of rain in Los Angeles. So, I can diddle on the computer and keep watch on my leaking roof—towels everywhere! But the good thing is—the drought is vanquished! Lots of bee flowers this year!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Ron. Thanks for the apology. I can understand that confusion though. A possible reason for this confusion, is that I am finding that my question/comment is not usually found online or anywhere else, so it is new to read and think about.

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  7. Thanks for the nice remarks, Ron. I guess I assumed it was Dave Hackenberg as I believe he was in the scene just prior to the splitter scene. Wasn’t that him going through hives one after the other and finding deadouts? It HAS been a long time since I saw premier of the film in Beverly Hills—Marcus Imhoof’s staff asked me to come to the opening showings to answer questions from the audience afterward regarding feral bees and keeping them. You’ll remember the final scenes were of the Arizona beek taking a colony out of a boxed in eave.

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    • Ron Miksha says:

      Is this the ‘splitter scene’ you are thinking of?
      Splitting Hives

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      • Yeah! think that’s it—what do you say they are doing? I remember the camera going very close in and you see all the bees getting mashed and drowning in honey.

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      • Ron Miksha says:

        These are not Hackenberg’s bees.

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      • Yes, I see from the enlargement, its another big outfit, Miller’s. They are well known commercials. But do you say they are not splitting hives or are they? It looks like it to me in the film

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      • Ron Miksha says:

        The clip seems to show an assembly-line process for making splits. I’ve split hives, of course. So did the ‘Grandpa’ in the movie. It’s part of beekeeping. The operators were not intentionally trying to hurt bees – it would make no sense and these are not cruel people. However, the film tries to portray them in a very bad way. I think things will change in agriculture – but meanwhile, 7 billion people need to eat and millions of almond trees need pollinated. Keep advocating and offering suggestions for the rest of us.

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      • Ron—OK—I see that it WAS a mechanical splitter mechanism. Of course, beeks do splits, I do splits, but this scene, as I remember, was not explained, just portrayed after the one with the many deadouts turning up. So, only someone knowing beekeeping would know what the end result was desired—getting more colonies from the survivors. I also remember the owner saying something about his father, or grandfather, looking down from “above” at his management and wondering where the soul of the thing went. Do you remember that?
        Ah! the 7 billion people! My first foray into activism was with addressing the unsustainable rate of human population growth and the group started by Paul Ehrlich of Stanford— ZPG. When I was in college in the 70s through the 80s—I was the LA chapter chair. That opens up a whole new discussion….

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      • I have had correspondence with John Miller several times. He strongly urged me to bring the message of TF beekeeping and using feral genetics to the “BeeAudacious” conference in Marin in December, but I could not find a way to make the 11 hour drive be worth the 2 hours of public participation allowed, so didn’t go. Mr Miller is the subject of the book “The Beekeeper’s Lament” and I have corresponded with the author, Hannah Nordhaus. She was quite prickley about some things I challenged her in regard to statements in the book—only about technical things, not about her rather overly solicitous characterization of Mr Miller—I did not want to voice that at all. She has written this, which I find fascinating in view of all the bees I rescue—
        ““Because of the varroa mite, wild honey bees are now, for all practical purposes, extinct in the United States.”

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  8. thelongview says:

    I’m mostly vegan, “In a social setting”, I’m vegetarian. And I realize it’s all too easy to become a fanatic, or to act holier than thou. Your post makes interesting reading and makes a case for moderation. Btw, this may not work in temperate climates, but I have been told by an Indian farmer how honey used to be harvested by his forefathers. When they found a wild beehive in the forest, they would throw a small stone into it. The honey would ooze out through the hole created, down a string attached to the stone, and be collected round the year in a pot placed on the ground. I like this kind of non-exploitative coexistence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Thanks for the interesting comments!

      I will guess that the stone-throwing honey-collecting was used on the giant dorsata bee which is common in India but not found in temperate climates. Western honey bees nest inside cavities so their comb is not exposed. The dorsata builds large combs that are exposed. It does not make much honey and is suffering as people usually climb up to the nest and remove most of the honey with knives.

      I’ve never heard of the stone and string trick. I’m not sure it would work, actually, and would love to see it in action. It seems to defy physics (and the viscosity of honey), it would yield only a tiny bit of honey where the stone hit, and if it has never been photographed, it might be rarely seen because it isn’t done much because it does not work well.

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  9. Again, thanks for raising awareness of the vegan lunacy. I hand idea there was such a misconception about honey! which is perhaps the single greatest thing a human can consume!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Crossroads: Can Christians be vegan?

  11. Paul Russell says:

    The great irony here is that if you had done even a minimal amount of research on Donald Watson you would know that he was actually an amateur beekeeper. Although the current position of the UK Vegan Society is that honey is not vegan, Watson evidently didn’t subscribe to the same view back in 1947 when he founded the society. This makes your spiteful remarks about the man look rather ridiculous and ill-informed.

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    • Ron Miksha says:

      Hello Paul Russell,

      Thank you for your comments and for your attempt to discredit me through a personal attack. Charming. It’s quite interesting to me that you would write “…if you had done even a minimal amount of research on Donald Watson you would know that he was actually an amateur beekeeper.” If he was, that would be totally irrelevant to the article which I wrote, except to highlight how incongruous veganism is. However, I was rather sure, from his writings, that he was NOT a beekeeper because he declared that keeping bees and eating their honey was cruel to the insects. Had he been a beekeeper, he would have know that beekeeping can be performed in a safe manner, injuring fewer creatures than, say, sugar production. If he kept bees at all, perhaps to pollinate his garden, it’s not mentioned in any of the sources, so my research doesn’t show it – it’s not mentioned in the biography which I read, nor in this 34-page interview of his life from the vegan society website, nor does a search of Donald Watson beekeeper bring up the vegan Donald Watson. (Although my search did yield a Quebec Donald Watson as a beekeeper, but not the vegan Watson. Maybe this confused you?)

      But if Donald Watson, vegan, was a beekeeper, would he have written so vehemently against keeping bees and honey in 1944? [By the way, it was November 1944 that he and five others founded the Vegan Society, not in 1947 as you erroneously stated in your note.] Had he been a beekeeper, he would have known that keeping bees properly does not hurt bees – so I doubt that he was actually a beekeeper, Paul.

      Paul, I appreciate corrections and feedback – they keep me on my toes – but please check your facts before writing. And since you have chosen a personal attack (“rather ridiculous and ill-informed” as you said), you won’t be commenting here again. Instead, may I kindly suggest that you spend your free time learning how honey can be made without injuring bees and how other sugars (which perhaps you cook with) are far less benign.

      Ron

      Like

    • susan rudnicki says:

      One problem here is, whenever someone levels such a hard assertion with NO citation to back it up, it makes the the whole comment read as subjective.

      Liked by 1 person

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