Bees make honey as a natural process, and they do it because they need it for their survival. It’s their food. They’re never worried about humans and their honey needs. The problem comes when humans harvest honey without thinking of the welfare and future of the producer.
Role of Bees in the Ecosystem
Bees play a very vital role in the ecosystem. However, many people only focus on the sweet products produced by bees, including beeswax, honey, royal jelly and bee pollen. These products are highly useful to humans. On the other hand, the process of making these products is very useful to the ecosystem.
As natural pollinators, bees support the ecosystem in many ways. For instance, they support the growth of flowers and trees. These trees and plants are also vital to many other living organisms, mainly the animals that feed on them. Bees, therefore, contribute to a complex and interconnected ecosystem. They’re part of species that coexist and mutually benefit from each other.
Without bees, we would lose millions of plants and crops that bees pollinate. The effect would also be transferred to the millions of animals that eat those plants. Most importantly, humans are dependent on these plants and animals, as well. A world without bees would, thus, be a world without plant life characterized by struggling humans.
The Danger of Over-Harvesting Honey
Beekeeping principles across the world require that honey harvesters approach the work without endangering the lives of honey makers. One important thing worth noting is that bees make honey to eat it, feed their young ones with it and keep it for the winter. This is especially important since they are inactive during the winter and can’t make it during the season.
Eating honey is not bad for bees if it’s done considering their nutrition needs. In most cases, bees make excess honey due to their hoarding instincts. As long as they’re active and there are flowers, they make honey non-stop since they collect excess pollen. This habit leaves a huge surplus of honey, which is what we should harvest.
Bad Industry Practices to Avoid
Some beekeepers often use unethical practices to get as much honey as possible. They don’t bother about the consequences their practices have on bees. Such practices are what make eating honey bad for bees.
For instance, some keepers consider culling the hive after collecting honey as it’s cheaper than keeping the bees during the winter season. Others also ship the bees around to help in pollinating specific crops. Such practices can be good for profit margins, but for bees, they’re the worst. In fact, they often make them susceptible to die-offs as their normal lives are disrupted.
Other inhuman steps that are sometimes taken include cutting off the wings of the queen to stop it from moving to a new colony. Some also take out all the honey from the hive and put some sugar for the bees to eat during winter. All these are bad practices, and they endanger bees while also threatening the ecosystem.
Eat Honey but Take Action to Protect Bees
As we enjoy honey and the other amazing products that bees make, we should not forget that they, too, have another very fundamental role to play in the ecosystem. We risk losing them if we don’t take steps to protect them and their environment.
One way to protect bees is to avoid taking all the honey they make. At least, leave them with what is enough to sustain them through winter. Planting wildflowers can also help them grow in their numbers. You can also allow your lawn to grow and be insect-friendly so that bees can benefit from it.
Most importantly, any activities that are not environmentally conscious, including shipping bees, culling the hive and smoking bees away, should be stopped. We can still get enough honey from bees without having to make life difficult for them.
Eating honey isn’t bad for bees if it’s done while ensuring their lives aren’t endangered in the process. As long as they’re active, bees will always make honey in surplus. Keeping the environment favorable for them can, therefore, assure beekeepers a continuous supply of honey. Industry practices carried out not in the interest of bees and the ecosystem ought to stop.
In conclusion, enjoy the honey and other bee products, but remember to make the environment good for bees today and in the future. Eat honey, but responsibly. The product is no doubt important, but bees’ lives and survival are more important.