Oh… I’m sorry to be the one to start this topic, being such a bee product fan, but—I kept bees for a few years, and in my research I discovered some information that didn’t sit so well with the caring part of myself.
Bees collect pollen in sacs that are attached to their legs. To harvest the pollen, commercial beekeepers use a thick “comb” in the bottom of the hive, in the slit the bees use as a entrance/exit. The bees then have to drag themselves across the “comb” to enter or exit the hive. The bristles catch and often tear off their limbs and other parts, and, consequently, pull most of the pollen they’ve collected off their legs in the process. The beekeepers then collect the pollen and and get rid of most of the “debris” (aka. bee body parts).
Pollen is like bee bread (any of you who have tasted it can testify!)—they need it to survive as a healthy colony. Taking the pollen from them (in the usual way) makes them have to forage more often, which is wearing on their bodies and health. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia about bees:
“As a rule of thumb the foraging area around a beehive extends for two miles (3 km), although bees have been observed foraging twice and three times this distance from the hive. Foraging at extreme distances wears out the wings of individual bees, reduces the life expectancy of foraging bees and therefore the efficiency of the colony.”
Royal jelly is also harvested at the expense of the health of the colony, although I haven’t done enough research to give the specific facts. Basically, commercial, industrial beekeeping and pollen/royal jelly-harvesting practices are cruel on the small scale and dangerous on a large scale. They’re degrading the health and balance of honey bees and should be boycotted. Bees are so important to the health and survival of our natural world… It’s in our best interest to keep them healthy. Please help this situation by not buying bee pollen (or royal jelly) from large industrial companies and by educating those around you to do likewise! Thanks…