Did you know that honey is a kosher food?
(As kosher only applies to a small percentage of the population whether religious, non-religious, observant, or non-observant, it is fascinating to learn about the concept and how it relates to bees, honey and other bee products.)
100% pure, raw honey is kosher.
"Keeping kosher" is following Jewish dietary law.
Honey is derived from kosher flower nectar. Bees collect nectar in their honey sacs. Each honey bee transports the nectar to the hive, passes the nectar on to another bee at the colony, then stores it in colony honey comb.
Stored nectar that becomes honey is never digested by the bee. So, it is not considered a product of the bee itself like, for example, milk from a cow, or eggs from a chicken. It is stored and cured by evaporation for later consumption- much like bring home and putting away the groceries. Well, I think you can get the concept.
The transported nectar is the sweet juice of flowers. It becomes honey, inverted by honey bee enzymes from the bee's honey sac. The honey sac is not part of the digestive process. It is a means of storing and transporting.
Living in populous colonies, their large numbers allow them to gather and store excess quantities of nectar, turning it into honey for stored food for the future.
In it's pure form, honey is a kosher food. However, it potentially can be adulterated -e.g. with additives like corn syrup. Thinking of KFC's or Popeye's Honey Sauce or some brand of BBQ sauce? Also, honey can be infused to make it flavorful as with honey stix or honey warmed with vanilla beans, honey warmed with garlic, or honey warmed with coffee beans--even nuts, too.
As any type of adulteration and/or flavoring would make honey no longer 100% pure, therefore, it would no longer be kosher.
Too, honey does not always remain kosher. Think of equipment and cleaning. Honey processing equipment must only be used for honey processing and for nothing else. Even washing equipment becomes a factor. Non kosher food equipment cannot be used in the processing (extracting, bottling, storing, or handling) of the honey.
Honey has to be handled in a kosher manner to maintain a kosher status. This is primarily due to the fact that honey can be "leavened" or caused to ferment and is "symbolic of the unruly human nature, and of certain bad traits of character like pride, conceit, arrogance." But this is for a whole other discussion!
Other honey bee products and kosher considerations:
1. Bee Pollen - kosher
2. Propolis (pure) - kosher but non-kosher if anything is added
3. Royal Jelly - not kosher (as it is a bee secretion)
4. Beeswax - is not considered a food. Therefore, it is kosher in it's pure form and also that no non-kosher additives are used in it's processing.
Beeswax becomes non-kosher when non- kosher additives are used.
5. Honeycomb - kosher but may not be squeezed on the Sabbath and the honey should be removed from the comb before and not on the Sabbath.
Honey or bee products sold as kosher have undergone specific processing to be certified by a kosher agency. It is not required that honey have a certification.
Would you like to read more about the topic?