Kashrus of “Forest” or “Honeydew Honey”

Ask the Rov: Is “honeydew honey” kosher since the bees eat bug excretions?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

The Gemara teaches that although what emerges from a non-kosher animal is not kosher, honey is nonetheless kosher.1 There are two explanations given for this:

(1) Unlike milk, honey originates from nectar and isn’t a product of the bee itself. The little bit of bee saliva is batel in the rest. (2) There is a gezeiras hakasuv, a derivation from the posuk (Vayikra 11:21), “Ach es zeh,” teaching that this type of emission is allowed.

Although honey, on its own, is a kosher product, honey still requires a proper hechsher, whether due to additives or unkosher machinery, unless it’s 100% pure and not heated at all. Honey is the third most counterfeited food (after milk and olive oil). Corn syrup, sometimes used to dilute the honey due to its lower price, is an issue of kitniyos for Pesach.

During the processing of honey, it is heated to filter out bee particles (i.e., legs). This doesn’t pose a problem since their flavor in honey is unsavory (“nosen taam lifgam”) and does not prohibit the mixture.2 Moreover, even if some bee legs remain in the honey, it would be kosher b’dieved since they are “dry bones” and not flesh. Yet, they should be removed.3

“Forest honey,” “Honeydew honey,” and honey named after various types of trees generally refer to honey produced by bees that have consumed the excretions of aphids and scale insects left on trees (unlike standard honey produced from flower nectar).

If the allowance for honey is derived from a special posuk, it only applies to the secretion of bees and not the secretion of aphids. Some suggest that the aphid secretion isn’t edible until the bee transforms it into honey. But in practice, these other honeys are considered to originate from non-kosher sources.4

The kashrus of honey from other types of hornets or wasps hinges on a disagreement among Rishonim. Shulchan Aruch brings both opinions, with preference implied for the lenient view.5 But the Rama implies that one should act stringently if these honeys were to be found.6

See Sources (open PDF)

From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash

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