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Why Is honey kosher?

Why Is honey kosher?


The rabbis of the Talmud discuss this question.1 The Mishnah states "that which comes from something which is not kosher is not kosher, and that which comes from something which is kosher is kosher." So, for example, the milk of a camel or the eggs of a vulture are just as unkosher as the camel and the vulture.

Why then, since bees are not kosher, is the honey of a bee permitted?

Honey consists of nectar, which bees gather, store and transport to their honeycombs. While in the bee, the nectar is broken down and transformed into honey by enzymes in the bee. But it is not actually digested by the bee. So the honey is not a product of the bee itself—as is milk.

One hundred percent pure, raw honey is kosher. When purchasing honey, be sure to check that it is certified as kosher by a reliable kosher agency, since non-kosher foods may have been processed on the same equipment, and non-kosher flavorings may have been added.

We have an interesting article on honey and its role in Judaism here: Honey. Let me know if this is helpful and if I can be of any further assistance.

Mrs. Rochel Chein


Bechorot 7b

Mrs. Rochel Chein is a member of the Ask the Rabbi team.
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Anonymous Gothenburg, Sweden March 27, 2017

Beekeepers often use goose feathers for wiping away the bees from the combs in honey harvest. Can this make the honey fleishig? Reply

Anonymous NJ September 18, 2016

I have yet to see honey that does not come straight from the apiary (and I've lived all over the US).
Processed with other foods-- not. Reply

Rochel Chein for February 10, 2015

Bee parts This is discussed by the halachic authorities at length, and unfiltered honey with bee parts in it should be strained before eating. If the honey was heated, in kosher equipment, before filtering, it is still kosher since the bee parts are unsavory. (Code of Jewish Law, YD 81:8.) Additionally, according to some opinions, bee legs (and possibly wings) are considered inedible like bones, and do not cause the honey to become non-kosher. Reply

Anonymous January 26, 2015

are dead bees kosher? All honey has dead bees that come and go from it, they get filtered out before it's bottled.. soooo is it still tahor? Reply

Anonymous Canada March 30, 2013

Is honey kosher What did the ancients know about enzymes? Give me a break. Reply

Angela Texas December 8, 2012

Kosher Honey It appears to me that the enzymes are secreted by the bee. So, would this not then make honey not kosher? It is confusing. Reply

also known as bristol, tn September 16, 2011

Raw honey rocks! And kosher rules need an upgrade! Refined sugars, which have been stripped of their companion nutrients and minerals, are NOT kosher. Why not ? It's been scientifically proven that sugars separated from their nutrients and minerals will require extra help from your body to process, which will drain you of energy and over-work the pancreas! It also raises blood pressure, blood sugar level, etc... Refined sugars = unhealthy = not kosher.

Anyways, an organic beekeeper would have to supply the bees with healthy kosher sugars to keep the bees just as healthy as you or I would want to be. The bees must also only be allowed to gather pollen from 100% organic kosher sources that use no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The machines must be properly cleaned/sterilized for kosher standards. Etc...

I wish more things would be considered non kosher so that those evil businesses would lose profits and shut down. The current wheat/corn/soy fields must be cleared for healthier grains! The day shall come again! Reply

Seymour September 5, 2011

100% honey does not contain flavorings and it is illegal to add anything to it. Please read Rav Moshe's responsa on chalav stam, where he wrote that chalav Yisrael was for baalei nefesh and the danger of breaking the law was enough to protect us from possible adulteration. Rochel, I assume you have never worked in an apiary, I have. Honey processing equipment is very specialized and is not normally used for treif foods. Even if it was, it is washed out because any trace of a foreign substance can affect honey. Several of the reliable US hashgachas have gone so far as to post on their websites that honey does not need a hechsher.
We know that Yonatan ate honey from the field (without a hechsher) as did Samson. In fact, the word used for honey extraction in modern Hebrew (Ridiya) is the same word that is used in Tanach, both in the case of Yonatan and Samson.

The issue of Pesach is not because of corn syrup (which is used to feed the hives in the winter), it is due to other reasons. Reply

Rochel Chein, author September 4, 2011

Re: Honey One hundred percent pure, raw honey is kosher. However, honey often contains flavorings that may contain non-kosher ingredients, and the honey may be heated before bottling, on equipment also used to process non-kosher foods. Certification by a reliable kosher agency is recommended unless one is certain that the honey is pure and unprocessed.

Kosher for Passover certification is also important, as companies have been found to dilute honey with corn syrup, which Ashkenazi Jews do not eat on Passover. See Is Honey Kosher for Passover . Reply

Seymour September 3, 2011

Honey Evelyn, honey does not require a kosher certification, but honey to be used for Pesach does. Gloves that workers use can have powder on them, which can be made from foods that are not kosher for passover. Bottling lines used for jams can also need special passover cleaning. But as far as the rest of the year, 100% pure honey does not require a certification. Reply

Evelyn, London London,, UK September 2, 2011

Honey If a company only produces honey, jams & honey wax candles, how could their plain honey be considered unkosher. Here in the UK there are a couple of jam companies that produce all sorts of jams, honey etc, & they get a hechsha pessach. Doesn't the kosher label just come along when a company is prepared to pay for it. Honey is the only product that the human being is unable to create - that must say something about how underwhelming human beings really are, and yet there is a requirement that honey must still have a kosher sticker. Money for old rope I think! Comments appreciated. Reply

Jacob Ben-Portal Hopkinton, MA August 12, 2011

insects NOT kosher? what about locust? Reply

Guylaine lachine, Canada October 31, 2010

a receipe for home made honey: 1 Double Pink Knockout Rose
12 pink clover flowers
12 white clover flowers
4 cups of white sugar
1 cup of water
!/2 baby spoon of alum seed

bring to boil on medium heat
don't let it boil, retrieve from the stove top
separate the flowers from the honey with a cheese cloth
put in preheated jars to keep...

A recipe from the middle ages, given by Nostradamus while in France... ( although he didn't called it honey... and he used it for digestion and against the plague)
In our family that come from France, from mother to daughter, we have been making honey (rose-honey) for ages ...

Make sure the flowers have no insects in it...

Nostradamus suggest to keep the flowers in water all night long...

He was Jewish, maybe it as a Jewish recipe ???? Reply

Seymour Thornhill February 12, 2010

Question for jacob Jacob, who is "we"? The shulchan aruch also tells "us" that kapparot are a pagean custom and as it turns out, many sephardim do not observe the pagean rutual.

Halacha evolves. Reply

Jacob Toronto February 11, 2010

Question For Dean The concept of something being nullified 1/60 only applies to certain foods and certain situations. Regarding making milk into cheese, if the enzyme used wasn't kosher then the cheese isn't kosher, even if the the milk was more than 60 time the non-kosher enzyme. Reply

Jacob Toronto February 11, 2010

Question for Seymour We don't decide halachic rulings directly from gemara. Do you know if the opinion that you mention is the final opinion found in shulchan aruch ? Reply

Esther February 11, 2010

Reply to Seymor Hi Seymour,

I dont understand how we can use wax in foodstuffs if it isnt kosher?

Why is honey kosher but wax isnt?

Thanks for your response. Can you send me the chapter in the Gemara that states this? In fact, if anyone has any links to honey and bees in Jewish text, please send them my way via this forum.

Thank you. Reply

dean long beach, ca February 10, 2010

on facts quick thought: i think that it is not a fact that honey should not be kosher, a priori. i will have look up about the enzymes, but it sounds like it is certainly under 1/60th, which means halachically (other than pesach) it does not exist. therefore, the product has nothing from the bee. i will do some research on the enzymes, though. Reply

Seymour Thornhill, ON February 10, 2010

Reply to Esther There is a view in the Gemara that insects are not kosher but something that comes from insects is NOT unkosher.

It is true that bees mix enzymes that are secreted by the bees with the nectar. That starts the process of breaking down the sugars.

In fact, we use wax, which is not considered kosher, to make all kinds of flavourings and additives, which are kosher. Reply

Esther Toronto, ON February 10, 2010

Reply to Rabbi Freedman With all due repect to everyone's postings, I have to say that just because the Jews have "always eaten honey" does in no way answer the dilemma at hand.

Eating insects and anything that comes from them in NOT kosher. The enzymes that help produce honey come from bees. That is a scientific fact.

In ancient days, date honey and honey bee honey were the only sweeteners available. Is it not possible that humanity's deep craving for sweet foods overrode the Torah's prohibitions?

I dont want to be too controversial but I think that most of these comments are steering away from the FACT that honey is kosher and probably shouldnt be. Reply

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