A Thing of Eternity wrote:My girl was on the fence with honey for a while, on the one hand she loses the respect of some vegans (who cares?) and on the other hand, supporting beekeepers is one of the most ecologically positive things you can do. I'm a mead maker (honey wine) so I talk with bee keepers lots, they all love their bees and take excellent care of them. As far as I'm concerned humans and bees have formed a very mutually benificial relationship. We get honey and crop pollination (many of the crops we grown simply cannot pollinate without extensive bee hives in the area), and our bees also pollinate wild plants and help out the local ecosystem. The bees get an excellent healthcare program, and good nutritional suppliments. Plus bees generally make about triple the honey they need for the year, and beekeepers never over harvest the honey, their number one concern is the bees making it through the lean times with plenty of honey for themselves (or else they don't last long as beekeepers!). I've seen keepers cry when they find a dead hive, those guys truly love their bees (and their money in all honesty). The environment gets people working their asses off to save the bees that the ecosystem so desperately need.
I do have total respect for people who choose not to eat honey, that's fine by me obviously. But boy will I win an argument over whether or not the over-all ethics end up on the positive side! I totally respect if someone is personally uncomfortable with taking the honey (bees do sometimes get injured or killed in this process too).
As a matter of fact, I actually have several non-meat-eating friends who still eat honey, and they've pointed out several of the beneficial points you mention, there -- as these things go, beekeeping is
pretty ecologically-balanced and non-footprint-inducing (compared to other animal-derived activities out there), so I definitely support anyone who chooses to go this route.
Like you say, it's very symbiotic and earth-mother-friendly, with fewer of the adverse environmental stresses (especially on a local basis) than you tend to see with, say, cattle-raising or pig-farming, going from what I've read on the subject. My spouse and I both decided to eschew as many animal-derived products as possible in our lifestyles, but I agree that honey is very much on the far-less-harmful end of that whole spectrum, cruelty-wise.