I was debating for about 5 microseconds whether I should put this under the Food category or the Veganism category. Clearly when it comes to bee pollen and royal jelly it is a vegan issue and not a food issue.
If you’re dying to find out if bee pollen is vegan or if royal jelly is vegan I can tell you quickly and right off the bat that bee pollen is not a vegan product and neither is royal jelly. But I don’t want to leave it at that. Let’s take a moment to discuss why these bee products and bee products as a whole are not vegan.
First of all, before you get to thinking that we’re just talking about bees or “just” insects I think you need to reassess the value you give to life. An insects life is just as valuable to him/her as our life is to ours.
This is not to say I value insect life above human life, it is also not to say that I haven’t been guilty of killing insects by accident or from swatting away mosquitoes trying to eat me alive. But it is about changing from a callous disregard to some forms of life to an appreciation of the value of all life in it’s various forms.
Do we need bee products in order to live or sustain ourselves? No we don’t. The most commonly consumed bee product is honey which is really just a simple sugar and in my mind no better or worse for you than table sugar. It does not have magical properties as those who would sell you honey or other bee products would claim.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the many wonders and heroic adventures of the little honey bee. A honeybee or worker bee will produce usually no more than 1 teaspoon of honey in her life (worker bees are sterile females) as a worker bee. This is from visiting up to 10,000 flowers each and every day for that lifespan. Worker bees born in the spring and summer will live an average of about 6 to 7 weeks because of how busy the hive is during that time.
In that 16 ounce bottle of honey we carelessly squeeze into hot beverages is the work of around 100 bees, having visited a combined 40 to 50 million flowers. That’s the work that has gone into your honey.
Also, if I might be crude or blunt, honey is nothing more than bee vomit. It is nectar that bees swallow into their stomachs and then regurgitate over and over again, sharing it amongst themselves until it reaches the consistency desired. Honey is meant as food for the hive and other bees not for humans.
As is the case with most animal agriculture and this would include beekeeping and the use of apiaries in today’s demanding consumer culture the loss of bee life is par for the course of doing business. Honey is obtained by smoking out the hive to pacify the bees and then taking the honeycomb and extracting the honey.
Honey is not vegan and neither is bee pollen. Bee pollen is extracted from bees as they enter the hives through bee pollen traps with their legs filled with bee pollen. Bee pollen also euphemistically known as bee bread is pollen collected from plants mixed with the nectar or honey from the bees.
Bee pollen is stored on the leg sacs of worker bees and is “rubbed” off when they enter the hive through bee pollen traps. What most beekeepers won’t tell you is that many bees die and/or lose their limbs and wings in this process. They might euphemistically suggest that you have to remove “bee debris” from the pollen once you’ve collected. Bee debris is dead bees, limbs and wings.
Bee pollen like all other bee products is used for the hive itself. It has not been produced as a gift from bees for humans. Bee pollen in fact is for the feeding of the brood as is honey.
Royal jelly is also not vegan and royal jelly is the nutritional food specifically designed for the larvae and the queen bee in the hive. Royal jelly is excreted by glands in the heads of worker bees. All larvae are fed it for the first 3 days of their lives and the queen bee larvae are fed it throughout their development.
As with bee pollen, propolis, and many other bee products, royal jelly can cause severe allergies and anaphylactic shock in sensitive people. A whole hive under strenuous and stressful human intervention can product only about a pound of royal jelly over a 6 month period. Bees have become our slaves as we create artificial environments for them to produce the products we want.
Listen, folks will tell you about the many benefits of royal jelly or bee pollen or propolis and other bee products, but they’re trying to sell you something. There have been no scientifically proven benefits of bee pollen so don’t be duped. There have also not been any scientific proof on the benefits of royal jelly.
There is no place in the vegan diet for bee pollen and other bee products whether you are on a raw vegan diet or a mixed vegan diet.
There you have it in a nutshell. Bee products are for other bees. Just like cows produce milk for their calves and not for humanity. Bees do feel pain, but beyond that, bee pollen is not the elixir to human health and if you step back and think about it, it is not meant for human use.
How would you obtain these products in the wild? You would have to take a bee hive by force from honey bees or bumble bees and extract the products yourself. You would be stung mercilessly. That doesn’t seem anything like taking an apple from a tree does it?
And in today’s mechanized beekeeping you are party to death, dismemberment and rape when you partake in honey and other bee products. I hope you’ve lost your appetite.