At EarthKosher, we take pride in providing thorough, reliable, and affordable kosher certification. When it comes to keeping kosher, people can run into variations in opinions as to what is kosher and what isn’t. One age old question we come across is: If bees are not kosher, why is 100% pure honey considered kosher?
There’s an old saying that says, “That which comes from something that is non-kosher, is not kosher and that which comes from something that is kosher, is kosher.” This seems very simple and straightforward, but when it comes to honey, a lot of doubt can arise.
To understand why honey is kosher, it’s important to first know how honey is made.
How Bees Make Honey
Honeybees fill their days sucking nectar from flowers. Once the worker bees get to the sweet nectar, they swallow it and store it in their honey sacs. While in the honey sac, the honey is mixed with enzymes. These enzymes break down the complex sugars of the nectar and turn them into simpler sugars. This is done through a process called inversion. With a nice filling of nectar, the worker bees head back to regurgitate the modified nectar for the hive bees. The hive bees suck up the sugar from the worker bees and start to break it down further. After this, the hive bees also regurgitate the inverted nectar. They store this in a honeycomb cell. After placing the nectar in the cell, the hive bees beat their wings to fan the nectar and evaporate the remaining water content. As the water evaporates, the sugars thicken into honey. The hive bees then seal this in the honeycomb cell for later consumption.
How do Kosher Laws Apply?
Depending on your source, there are two different beliefs as to why honey is considered kosher. One belief states that because the bee releases the honey from within, it isn’t produced by the bee’s body, making it kosher. (Unlike a non-kosher camel that produces non-kosher milk.) Another belief says that while there are scriptures that prohibit one from eating a flying insect, there aren’t any verses that prohibit someone from eating what a flying insect excretes – i.e. honey.
Once you really understand how bees turn that sweet nectar into honey, you actually find that the nectar is never digested. Honeybees simply transform nectar into honey. It is not a secretion of the bee either. The lovely honeybee only acts as a carrier or facilitator of honey, as opposed to milk produced by a cow or eggs produced by a chicken. This scientific fact is what makes honey a kosher product.
Focus on the Pure Honey
With all the information we know about honey and its kosher status, one thing to keep in mind is that only 100% pure honey is considered kosher. Some companies do flavor their honey and this can cause some issues as far as keeping a kosher diet. Many flavorings are not considered kosher, so without kosher certification, this honey may be non-kosher. If your favorite brand of honey has flavorings, it’s imperative that you make sure it’s certified kosher by a reliable certifier.
For more information about kosher certification or to speak to a rabbi, feel free to contact EarthKosher at 888.312.3559.