One of my colleagues at work is vegan, and I became curious about why vegans don't eat honey.

After a search on the internet I found a website explaining why honey is not vegan.

However what baffled me was the claim that bees are harmful to the environment. This goes against my general knowledge about the role of bees on nature.

Ultimately, however, the reduction of honeybee populations would be positive because they crowd out native bee species. Honeybees are not native to North America. [...]

Honeybees steal pollen and nectar from other pollinators, but honeybees are not necessarily the best pollinators in natural ecosystems. Bees wet the pollen with saliva making it less likely to be transferred to a plant. They also travel to many different types of plants so the pollen doesn't necessarily get to the right plant

So to summarize, do honeybees prevent native pollinators, inlcuding native bees from effectively pollinating plants?

  • 1
    I've added the best sample of the claim I could find on the page.
    – Sklivvz
    Feb 15, 2015 at 9:37
  • 3
    The page provides extensive references to support its claims. What is the problem with these references? (I am just trying to avoid an answer that simply quotes the same references.)
    – Oddthinking
    Feb 15, 2015 at 11:08
  • Aside from whether it fits the definition of enslavement or not, my father raised honeybees for almost my entire childhood, before we moved to a different city. The claims of standard practices by even hobbyist beekeepers on the cited page are lies. The claims about how queens and hives are managed are idiotic, to be blunt. Jul 19, 2018 at 20:38

1 Answer 1


There is a recent review article covering this topic: Do managed bees have negative effects on wild bees?: A systematic review of the literature 8 December 2017, PLOSone:

Fifty-three percent of studies reported a negative effect of managed bees on wild bees via competition for shared resources while 28% reported no effect and 19% reported mixed effects (Fig 5A). Though no studies reported entirely positive effects, some positive effects were included in studies reporting mixed effects (Table 1). Negative effects were more common with managed bees outside of their native range (58% of studies) as compared to managed bees within their native range (37%), indicating that the use of managed bees outside of their native range is more likely to have negative competitive effects on wild bees (Fig 5A).


Our review found that the majority of studies reach the conclusion that managed bees negatively affect, or have the potential to negatively affect, wild bees through competition, changes in plant communities, or transmission of pathogens.

  • There was an interesting piece on NPR's Science Friday about how surprisingly well bumblebees seem to do in urban settings. A lot of it has to do with the lack, comparatively, of diversity in agriculturally managed areas, if I recall correctly. sciencefriday.com/episodes/june-29-2018 Jul 19, 2018 at 20:42

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