They rip off the queen honey bee’s wings

Yes, a jar of honey is filled with cruelty! Many people who understand the cruelty involved in factory farming and are morally opposed to eating meat find it less obvious that the lowly honeybee should also be of ethical concern. Just who are these honeybees, anyway? And what’s the big deal about sharing a bit of their honey in a symbiotic relationship that gives them free access to billions of flowers, full of the nectar they so like to collect?dead_bee2

Beekeeping is big business, to be sure: 15 to 30 percent of all food crops depend on bees for pollination. Like all factory farming, beekeeping has morphed into an industrial process which puts profits ahead of animal concerns. Commercial beekeepers truck some 2.4 million hives all over the country to track seasonal crops. These journeys clobber the bees with physiological stress, pesticides, diseases, and related disorders.

Even small outfits and hobbyists subject their bees to cruelty, such as cutting off the queen’s wings so that she can’t swarm.

cutHoneybees are thought to have originated in the tropics; winter mortality in temperate zones remains a serious issue. And recently, colonies across the world have been decimated by colony collapse disorder (CCD), a result of the abuses that we have wrought against these fascinating creatures. The range of pesticides, fungicides, and invasive procedures it takes to make bee hives profitable is staggering, and it is not yet clear what combination of these offenses is exterminating so many bees.

But so what: A bee is just an insect, a miniature biological robot, is it not? Who cares, as long as the crops are pollinated and there’s honey on the table? And how else could we pollinate all those plants, anyway–by hand, with a tiny paintbrush? Actually, there are 20,000 to 30,000 other native bee species who are quite up to the task, without factory farming them. To let nature take her course, however, we must stop destroying the diversity of ecological systems.

These marvelous creatures are famous for their sophisticated cognitive feats. Many other insects are similarly talented, of course, but they haven’t been as well studied. We know that honeybees process massive amounts of information about flowers, locations, and the behavior and physiological status of other bees in the hive, not to mention their ages, weather, and the seasons. As they mature, young worker bees progress through a series of nest-keeping chores before graduating to the task of foraging for nectar outside the hive. Consider for a moment the decisions that a foraging bee makes as he or she visits a number of different places and flowers on a trip from the nest. Where are the best flowers in relation to the hive, which individual flower to visit next, how to harvest the nectar from that particular flower, how long to stay in that patch, where to search next, how much nectar to load up with before returning to the hive, and oh, yeah, what direction is the hive from that location and how far is it?

When they do find good flowers, bees advertise them to everyone else in the hive with their famous waggle dance. In route, they use landmarks to guide their flights; they can recall their surroundings and remember visual images. For years, researchers have thought that honeybees must have some sort of “cognitive map”–a mental representation of local geography–to navigate by, because their bearings and routes to and from the nest are so nuanced and accurate. Recent work has brought the notion of cognitive maps up for reconsideration, but the bottom line remains: The mental life of bees includes decision-making that would indicate conscious awareness if performed by vertebrate animals. This is not hard-wired robotic behavior. Honeybees change their minds when conditions change. When looking for a new nest location, for example, scouts report back to the hive and spread the word to their sisters. The scouts will then visit the sites recommended by others, and if they are convinced that the suggested location is better than their previous choice, they change their vote and spread the word to the rest of the hive about the better site. Let that sink in for a moment. Do honeybees think?

Do bees suffer as a result of agricultural manipulation? Of course, they do. And whether or not honeybees are consciously aware of the insults that we inflict upon them, they are so very alive and engaging that I could not bring it upon myself to kill one just because I can, or just for some honey. Nor would I want to invade their nest, cut off their wings, relocate them, and subject them to toxic pesticides, environmental stress, diseases, infections, and all the rest that beekeeping bestows upon them.

Live and let others live. Be free and allow others to be free.

That’s why I don’t eat honey, but please pass me the maple syrup and agave nectar!

source: Steve Martindale, PETA




Throughout history, people have suffered discrimination and violence as a result of views such as racism or sexism. These beliefs have led to slavery and violence against women in the home, which are now seen as abhorrent by the vast majority of society but this wasn’t true in the past. Amazingly, they were once thought natural and right in the belief that some humans were inferior. Discrimination such as sexism and racism have not disappeared but they are now being questioned and rejected by large sections of society.


“I received another dozen lashes, on the part of my back which was immediately above the bleeding and burning gashes of the former whipping… until I had received ninety-six lashes, and my back was cut and scalded from end to end. Every stroke of the whip had drawn blood; many of the gashes were three inches long; my back burned as if it had been covered by a coat of hot embers, mixed with living coals; and I felt my flesh quiver like that of animals that have been slaughtered by the butcher and are flayed whilst yet half alive.” An American Slave, 1859

Today, most people regard non-human animals as inferior. But studies show that they too experience emotions and sensations that humans do such as anxiety, pleasure, intense pain, fear of dying or boredom and these feelings matter to them just as much as ours do to us. Despite this, other sentient beings are confined and killed for ‘food’, their bodies are used in experiments, their skins for clothing, their appearance or behaviour for entertainment. Our desire to use them for our benefit is considered more important than their right to their own bodies, and unable to defend themselves, they suffer and die in their billions.


“The cow was unable to stand, so they twisted her tail painfully and dragged her to the kill floor by a rope. She was hit on the forehead with a cattle stunner, and hoisted upside down by a chain around her back leg. When a worker stuck a knife in her throat, she regained consciousness. Pouring blood and fluid from her throat, mouth and nostrils, she struggled to breathe and to free herself, hanging from one leg, for a further minute and a half before the worker returned and slit her from her throat down through her mouth. He then proceeded to hack her face clean away as she writhed and kicked.” Animal Equality activist, 2009.

Thinking that animals are inferior and we can use them solely because they were born with features such as fur or feathers instead of human skin is an irrational and unfair prejudice towards other species, known as speciesism. Speciesism overlooks our sameness – sentience – and as with racism and sexism, those without power suffer so that someone else can gain.

Most of society is blind to speciesism but as more and more people realise that non-human animals are not our property, and deserve to live free from exploitation by humans, they are deciding to go vegan. By choosing a varied plant-based diet free from animal products, wearing animal-friendly footwear and clothing, using vegan cosmetics and household products and entertaining ourselves without the use of animals we all move one step closer to a more peaceful and just society for all.