During Rosh Hashanah, it is traditional to eat apples dipped in honey, to symbolize our hopes for a “sweet” new year. The apple is dipped in honey, the blessing for eating tree fruits is recited, the apple is tasted, and then the apples and honey prayer is recited.
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.
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.
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
FOOTNOTES 1. Bechorot 7b
Adopt a Honey Bee honey is raw and natural. I do not heat or process my honey in any way. It is as fresh from the hive as you can get. I extract the honey from the comb, pass it through a cheese cloth, and put in Mason jars. That is it, nothing more or less.
Many people claim and research has shown that eating raw honey has helped strengthen the immune system, treat allergies, aids in digestion, and even help heal burn wounds. Honey is full of natural enzymes and other biological compounds that have many positive effects on the body; inside and out. Honey also has anti-fungal properties and will never go bad. Honey as found in ancient tombs in Egypt that was thousands of years old was still edible.
My wife and I swear that since we have been eating our local raw honey that we have been sick less often than in past years. Try it for yourself!
Maureen Dolan, NOVA Online's intern, worked with a bee researcher from the University of Massachusetts Boston in the summer of 1998.