Making honey is a normal and natural activity for bees that does not cause them to suffer or die, so eating honey is not an ethical issue.
Bees possess extraordinary intelligence, decision-making ability and even specialized language. They also experience pain. This means that bees are thinking individuals whose needs and wishes are usurped for our benefit when we consume honey. This also means that bees suffer when their honey is taken from them.
In commercial honey operations, queens are purchased after having been artificially inseminated with crushed males. The wings of these queens are ripped off to prevent them from flying away, and while they would normally live to four years old, they are killed at age two to make room for younger queens. Further, commercial hives are often left to die by starvation and exposure or killed as a means of controlling stock. Even in smaller honey operations where bees are treated gently, some are crushed to death when their hives are disturbed. Beekeepers in these environments often replace honey with sugar or corn syrup to maximize profits, but these are not a bee’s natural food, and they are not sufficient to sustain an entire hive through the winter. Ultimately, wild hives create living conditions and food stores ideally suited to sustain themselves, but human intervention results in starvation, suffering and death for bees. So since humans do not need honey to survive, eating it is indeed unethical.
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