To Bee Or Not To Bee

Scott and I have been vegan now officially for slightly more than two months. It’s not been terribly difficult to do; there are so many veggie alternatives out there, our diet has remained flexible and variable.  The kids are not “full-on vegan,” since they still eat lunch on occasion at the school’s cafeteria which, at various times, has meat options.  (I am proud to learn, however, that the girls regularly choose veggies over meat when given the choice.)  And with the new lunch rules, they are no longer given juice to drink.  It’s milk or milk.  Thank you, Government, and you’re welcome, Dairy Council.

Consciously not eating flesh was the easiest part of the whole exercise. Even the kids understood why we were doing it (or not doing it, really).  Watching Farm to Fridge as a family was not only an eye-opening experience, it solidified our resolve to not participate in our country’s current meat-for-food industry.  We all agreed that change starts with us.

Worker bees
Worker bees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re left to one nagging “non-vegan” product: raw honey.

Bees make honey naturally, without anyone’s urging, without anyone’s help. It is the worker bees’ primary food source, made and stored in honeycomb (also made by the bee) for consumption during the winter when blooms are scarce.

We regularly visit a local farmer who keeps bee colonies as a side business.  They are crucial to the success of his primary farming business, and having them directly on his property assures that at least his crops get pollinated so that his fruits, which he sells to me, can be enjoyed at my dinner table, and he, in turn, can pay his bills. Indirectly, his very livelihood depends on the colonies’ success; he would be remiss in “robbing” them of their food source.  Last year, during one of our state’s more severe droughts, he went the extra mile for his bees, keeping them fed through the hard times.  They, in turn, produced a glut of honeycomb, which he’d then harvest, minimally process (using a press) and sell fresh and raw to regular customers like myself.  The flavor and health benefits are well worth the premium paid.

No animals were abused or neglected with the harvesting of this honey for my pantry. There was no intentional (or unintentional) killing of the animals who gave it. There is no harmful impact on the environment by my (limited) use of it.  Without it, the healthy colony progresses to yet another season, where they’ll pollinate to their hearts’ delight, grow their colony, build their honeycomb (nest, food, storage) make more honey, etc.  It is truly a nature-made-perfect food.

How is this bad?  Is it really “exploiting” the animal?  If it is, wouldn’t I, then, also be exploiting them by having them pollinate my garden flowers, without so much as asking, so that I may enjoy the fruits selflessly?  Perhaps it’s more of a symbiosis, I scratch their back (with my flowers’ nectar), they scratch mine (with their honey).

In order to be fully vegan, I’m told, I should not consume honey.  But I still do.

And I still call myself vegan.

To bee or not to bee? That is the question.

* * *

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2 thoughts on “To Bee Or Not To Bee

    1. Yes, we do. I like Meilan! Perhaps I’ll start using it and it’ll catch on. Though it’s still important to harvest bee’s honey in a thoughtful, sustainable manner.

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