While veganism is often associated with food choices, there are other products in the market that harm animals. In this week's Vegan View, Ally Lastovica explains Burt's Bees's bee exploitation.

While veganism is often associated with food choices, there are other products in the market that harm animals. In this week’s Vegan View, Ally Lastovica explains Burt’s Bees’s bee exploitation.

Burt’s Bees, a Vegan Tragedy

Bees aren’t commonly first on the list when it comes to discussions about animal cruelty. Although well known to the vegan community, most people are oblivious to the exploitation these little creatures face.

Honey isn’t the sole product bees make that humans desire. They also produce venom, bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis, and wax. The creation of the wax is a demanding process for bees and requires them to consume eight times as much honey. Bees use this wax for building and fixing their hives, meaning they have to work to make extra wax just to replace the amount that was taken from them.

Humans have created all different types of ways to use beeswax. The goal activists have is simply to lessen the demand for these products to reduce the overall harm inflicted on bees. From furniture polish to body butter, there have been many unnecessary products derived from beeswax. Most popular of them all seems to be the miniature item in almost everyone’s pocket, lip balm.  

While focusing mostly on the plant-based eating section of the vegan lifestyle, I found myself to be absent-minded when it came to the wax branch of bee exploitation. I wasn’t eating any honey, but I was carrying around a tube of Burt’s Bees lip balm, and that fault did not occur to me until recently. 

After doing my research, I realized that although Burt’s Bees claims to be cruelty-free, it’s not possible taking into account the factory farming of beeswax. The ingredient can be found in almost 99 percent of all lip balms and lipsticks. While the products can’t hold up the vegan title, there are more ways to help the bees than by throwing away all your chapstick collection. 

Looking for products that are beeswax free like Ladybug Jane Lip balms, is a good start to help lower the demand. Another way to contribute is to plant flowers. Simple, but effective as long as they are organic seeds or untreated plants with no neonicotinoids. The next way you can make a difference is by buying organic locally sourced fruits and vegetables from growers with permaculture practices not using any pesticides. Asking your local community and golf courses to not use pesticides could also make big improvements in preventing the poisoning of bees.

One active community to consider joining or helping are beekeepers practicing bee-centric beekeeping, a philosophy that focuses on putting the needs of the bees before the needs of humans. They turn their focus onto education and rescuing colonies that may have otherwise been exterminated.

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