Contrary to popular belief, cultivating honey for human consumption isn’t just a matter of letting bees “do what they do” and reaping the benefits.
Although the creation of honey is a natural process, humans extract far more honey from bees than they would otherwise create naturally. As a result, bees can suffer during all stages of industrialized honey production.
Honey is created when bees suck the nectar out of a flower, regurgitate it, and process it with other bees back at the hive.
In their natural states, they use this honey as a food source during winter. But on honey farms, beekeepers take that honey and replace it with a cheap sugar substitute—one that’s insufficient to meet honeybees’ nutritional needs.
As a result, honeybees die of over-exhaustion attempting to reproduce the honey that they require; others die of starvation or malnutrition, while others develop weakened immune systems and contract diseases.
Moreover, the negative consequences of industrial honey production extend far beyond the bees themselves. The honey industry also exacerbates an existing problem, a rather catastrophic one that has the potential to wreak havoc not only on bees, but on humanity itself.
As environmentalists often note, worldwide bee populations are in decline. Because of the crucial ecological role that bees play in food production, this decline is nothing short of an existential threat to human beings’ long-term food supply.
It would be natural to assume that honey farming en masse, by cultivating and maintaining constant populations of honeybees, is part of the solution. But it’s not. In fact, it’s part of the problem.