Attitudes of Intolerance against those who use Bee Products

Background: The conversation started when a vegan wrote Gideon Graff (of Shinui Health Center and Retreat in Roswell, GA) a very strongly worded letter about his use of honey. I wrote back a letter in Gideon's defense. My letter expresses some of my views (which were corrected by an astute reader). I seem to have misplaced the original vegan's letter but if I find it I will post. Rhio

September 15, 2000

Dear Gideon,

I'm sorry that some in the vegan community are so hard-nosed as to find fault with someone who uses a little honey. Here you have established a beautiful community where people can go to learn, experience, create, and relax in loving harmony and that is still not good enough for some people.

Attitudes of intolerance within the raw/live community do not serve us well.

There is no such thing as a 100% vegan. All fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains are covered with microscopic "Life". We may not arm ourselves to go out and kill it (or pay someone else to do it for us) but it is life nevertheless and this is the way it is. We are eating live microorganisms with every bite of our raw food. There are live microorganisms living within our intestines, in our ears, in our eyes, on our skin, etc. Would some of us mistakenly want it to be different? Talk to the Creator.

The Creator made it thus for very good reason. These microorganisms are our allies. They work to keep us clean. They clean us up from the inside out, eating away debris, and in the process also creating vitamins K and B-complex (in the intestines).

Many in the raw/live community use maple syrup instead of honey believing it to be a better option, but two things about maple syrup:
1) it is a boiled product which is boiled down for many hours.
2) depending on who is making the maple syrup, there may be tripe fat added in the boiling process.

In the making of honey, I also object to abuse of the bees, or having them feed on white sugar or other manmade glop. Small beekeepers (that I’ve met) generally love their bees and leave enough honey for them to live as well.

Gideon, please don't let the harsh voices of a few deter you from your good work or purpose or make you believe that you are doing something wrong.

in service for Abundant Health,


Hi Rhio,

I couldn't agree more with the sentiments you express in your message about honey, tolerance (I prefer "acceptance," but in this case I believe we mean the same thing), etc.

One small technical point, in case someone brings it up: while it is true that we EAT many microorganisms, it is NOT true that we kill them when we eat them. In fact, they MUST remain quite alive and vital to perform all the functions you mention (making vitamins K and B-12, etc.) It is a fine point, but I thought I'd mention it, as I always prefer to be prepared for possible "blindsiding" comments and questions that are trivial but can truly derail a conversation or presentation.

Hope you find this comment positive — that is my intention!

Larry Levine

Dear Larry,

Thank you for pointing out my error. You are absolutely correct.


In a message dated 2/9/02 11:43:45 AM, writes:

Dear Rhio,

. . . Now I would like to ask you about honey. You also use in your recipes raw wildflower honey (makes me feel good). Why are so many raw food people against honey? There is no logical reason. Also there is no proof in research about any negative points. Also I never get any logical explanation from raw foodists, only "opinions".

In Germany we always used raw, unfiltered wildflower honey. A friend of mine in Switzerland is a bee keeper. He explained me exactly the procedure of getting honey from bees without destroying them and without hurting them. Honey is the only sweetener that has also healing and preserving effects. No other sweetener does that. Maple Syrup is not raw. Agave Syrup is not availabe anymore, because the company in Mexico had to close down (it came out, that the company heated the Agave Syrup up to 150 degrees and some other dishonesty things happened).

For some dessert recipes honey is so ideal. The oldest bee house was so far found in Turkey that was built about 9000 years ago. Until about the 1600's there was no other sweetener than honey, especially also used for medical reason.

Fazcinating is that the bees live in a bee house on their free will. The more houses, the more they expand. If they run out of space, they create a new queen, separate from the "old folk" and go somewhere else.

Would be interesting to open up this discussion in the rawimmortal group. But I would appreciate your comments and ideas what you think about it. May be I am missing something?

Thank you very much and have a great weekend!

Warm regards,


February 9, 2002

Dear Ursula,

Interesting that you are mentioning honey to me because I am working on a section for my website on Vegan Concerns about the honey issue.

You see, the problem as I see it is this. People who are Vegan want to be kind. This is good. They want to do no damage to anything on the earth. They don't want to "steal" honey from the bees and then give them back sugar water or corn syrup. They don't want the bees to be killed each season (as I've heard that some beekeepers do). So because of these things they reject honey. Some of the vegans can be very unyielding in their convictions, but I believe that is because they do not understand the whole picture.

Even though I am vegan, as far as my eating, 99% of the time, still because of my advocacy for honey, propolis and bee pollen (which is really flower pollen) I get letters sometimes about this.

Do you know Gideon and Jackie Graff of Atlanta, Georgia? They have the Shinui Center and teach about the raw food diet and lifestyle. One time a vegan wrote Gideon a very strongly worded letter about his use of honey. I wrote back a letter in Gideon's defense. My letter expresses some of my views.

Then I had another letter and another and another and one from a beekeeper and so with all these letters I am going to put together a honey compilation on my website. You know what would be very interesting and help me here is if your friend the beekeeper in Switzerland could explain exactly how he takes care of his bees, then people would get a different picture. I have no doubt that LARGE commercial beekeepers do the wrong things in their beekeeping but I have not found this to be true with the small beekeepers that I've met.

Stay healthy.

In friendship,


Dear Rhio,

I like your arguments and how you protected Gideon. It shows me again, that there are too extreme people "they don't see the forest anymore, because of too many trees" (a German saying), means what you said, understanding the whole picture.

I have really no idea if huge commercial bee keepers treat {bees} well, I just know it from smaller ones in Europe. Our friend {Werner} in Switzerland explains the following:

Nobody "steals" honey from the bees. There is no sense with taking too much honey out otherwise the natural cycle would be interrupted and no honey produced. The bees are on their free will in a bees house. The more houses a keeper has the more bees. So, if nobody has bees houses, there are no bees.

The springtime bees are living for about 30 to 35 days from about April to July. Bees which are born in autum are living usually 6-8 months because they have more fat and protein reserves. In wintertime there are about 10.000 to 15.000 bees with their queen in a house. From April to July the bees folk is growing up to 40.000 to 60.000 per house. Now for the wintertime there would be not enough space, so they create new queens in summertime and leave to build new societies at other places. Now they are back to the number of bees they will survive over the winter. That happens every year all natural automatically. Nobody kills the bees.

Now to the honey itself:

Bees born in springtime they have from April to August enough wild flowers to get the honey from. In autum wildflowers are gone of course. Now, what the bees are doing? They go into the forests where our friend {Werner} is living. The only problem is, that the dark forest winter honey is too heavy and too thick. Too many bees would die during the wintertime because of not being able to digest the heavy honey. To avoid that, Werner takes end of November most of the heavy honey out of the houses and put then sugar water in. The only reason for that is, to keep about the same numbers of bees all the time during winter otherwise the population will be reduced a lot, specially if the winter is strong and cold.

My other question to him was:

What is unfiltered raw honey really?

There is clear honey as well, like rape-seed and acacia but otherwise "clear" honey is too much heated up. Raw honey is never heated up more than 35 Grade Celcius (about 85 degress F) and only if the honey is too hard to get it out of the comb. Raw honey is not clear. Werner tumbles the honey out, which makes it more creamy.

By the way the oldest bees house that was found so far is 9.000 years old in Turkey.

I hope my explanation from Werner gives a little bit a different view.

Ursula Horaitis
(Rent a Chef)
& Gourmet Raw Food Teacher

Dear Ursula,

From Werner's explanation then, the beekeepers are giving sugar water in the winter because the honey at that time is too thick and heavy to be digested by the bees. So I'm surmising here that he observed that not so many bees survived the winter with the honey but more survived the winter with the sugar water. I'm not sure that I am convinced yet about this. I'm thinking why couldn't he thin out the honey with water? Maybe because honey water would ferment? You see I have more questions. Could you ask Werner why he gives sugar water as opposed to honey water?

Vegans need to also be aware that many of the products that they use in their daily lives contain meat derivatives within them. For example, scotch tape, plastic containers, film, videotape, rubber tires, home insulation, colognes, soaps and shampoos, gelatin capsules, glue, books (which contain glue), computers, televisions, telephones and many more items. Are we never going to take a picture? Are we never going to go to the movies?

And so, to be truly vegan at the present time is not possible because of the way society is set up. It is sad that animal by-products are so pervasive in the manufactured products of our society, but that is the reality.

However, we can all patiently work towards a cruelty-free future where all of these products would be made without animal derivatives. That is my thought and prayer for the future.

Another word about bees and beekeepers. We desperately NEED beekeepers. Why? Because with the predominance of mega-agribusiness farms that use huge amounts of pesticides and chemicals, the bees have become extinct in those settings. Most modern farms hire beekeepers to bring the bees in at the appropriate time in the season to pollinate the plants. Without the bees the plants would not be pollinated and we would not have an abundance of food to eat. So really it is extremely urgent to have and honor beekeepers, just as a matter of human survival.


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