Though it may surprise some, bees are able to produce honey without including any animal products. In fact, all bees produce vegan honey - it's only when honey is processed with animal products that it is no longer considered vegan. The main ingredients in bees' honey are nectar and pollen, both of which are plant-based. Nectar is a sugary liquid secreted by flowers, while pollen is a powdery substance that bees collect from the stamen of flowers. Together, these two substances provide the essential nutrients that bees need to survive.

However, it's this process that makes the honey non-vegan. Is there any contribution by the bee besides its effort?

In addition to being an important agricultural service, bees also contribute to the flavor and physical properties of honey. The type of pollen that bees collect affects the taste and color of honey, while the bees' body temperature determines the honey's viscosity. As a result, bees play a significant role in determining the quality of honey. What are the other things that wouldn't be there without the bees?

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    It is a little sideways of your question but I have always been quite happy with maple syrup. And I think that for vegans at least the exploitation of bees is the main issue rather than the niceties of exactly how the honey is produced. Witness in Australia at the moment the large scale euthanasia of bees to control a widespread varroa infestation; and this is only the more public manifestation of use and abuse of bees for commercial gain...
    – user3977
    Commented Sep 10, 2022 at 6:32

1 Answer 1


While bees do produce honey from plants and cows eat grass, that doesn't make honey and milk vegan. Such products do however generally qualify as vegetarian because it's not necessary to kill the cow or all the bees to get hold of milk and honey.

Honey does not meet The Vegan Society's definition of a vegan product because it exploits bees.

Extraction of honey generally involves putting smoke in the hive so that bees become more docile. While non-fatal, this is still disruptive to the bees, if there's some immediate crisis the bees may be less likely to survive and if too much honey is taken then some or all of the bees will die.

Commercial honey production has been known to kill bees once they have produced all the honey they are going to for the season as it's cheaper to do that than to feed the bees over winter. Those bees that are kept are often fed sugar water which isn't as good for their immune system as honey is. They've also been known to clip the wings of the Queen bee to stop it from flying away.

Vegan "honey" is made from plant based sweeteners and is designed to mimic the taste and texture of honey as much as possible. There are plenty of recipes for making vegan honey on the internet, here's one for example.


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