Bees and other flying insects are not considered kosher. Does that also mean honey is not allowed on a kosher diet?
The Short Answer:
Yes, honey is kosher even though bees themselves are not.
The Long Answer:
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to honey being kosher. That’s because flying insects like bees are not kosher, according to the Jewish faith. In most instances, something that is produced by an animal that is not kosher would itself also not be kosher.
An example would be that the milk of a camel would be strictly forbidden under kosher law. That’s because camels themselves are not a kosher animal. Same with eggs from a vulture. They were produced from the body of something that is not allowed, so they are also not allowed.
So where does that leave honey? As we know, honey is produced by bees. Bees are a flying insect. Therefore, bees are not kosher. But unlike a camel’s milk and vulture eggs, honey is 100% kosher friendly and can be eaten by those keeping kosher.
So, the big question is why? It all boils down to how honey is created.
Bees gather nectar from flowers. That nectar is stored within a second “honey” stomach. Once in there, the enzymes produced in the bee’s stomach turn the nectar into honey. Once back at the hive, bees regurgitate the honey up, where it is chewed on by “in-house” bees that remain in the hive. This process completes the creation of honey.
According to a great many Rabbis, because honey is not produced by the bees’ bodies themselves, they are not considered a byproduct of the animal. Something like milk is produced in the body by the body. Nothing external goes into its creation. Same with eggs. But the bees are not creating honey out of nothing. Instead, they’re repurposing the nectar of a flower.
That’s the sweet and delicious loophole that keep honey on the kosher list.