Is Honey Vegan? What Is Honey Made Of?

By Anett Rannamets. Published: October 2023.
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Honey is not vegan. Honey is a natural sweet substance produced by bees. It is created when bees collect nectar from flowers, transform it through enzymatic digestion and evaporation, and store it in honeycombs to mature.

Honey has been a darling of the beauty world for its natural benefits and versatility. A lot of skincare creators use honey as an active ingredient. Now, let’s dive into the world of bees and honey and find out everything we need to know.

What Is Honey? What Is Honey Made Of?

Honey is a natural sweet substance produced by bees. It’s primarily composed of sugars, fructose, and glucose. Additionally, honey contains small amounts of water, vitamins, minerals, and various organic compounds.

Honey-making begins when worker bees, which are female bees, leave their hive and fly to nearby flowers. They’re on a mission to collect nectar, which is a sugary liquid that flowers produce to attract bees and other pollinators.

Once a bee lands on a flower, it uses its long, tube-like tongue called a proboscis to suck up the nectar. Bees can visit many flowers in a single trip and fill their stomachs with nectar. After collecting nectar, the bee returns to the hive with its stomach full. Bees have a special stomach called the “honey stomach” where they store the nectar. This stomach is separate from their regular stomach for food.

Back in the hive, the bee passes the nectar to another bee through a process called “regurgitation.” This means the bee vomits up the nectar into the mouth of another bee. This might sound weird, but it’s an important part of the honey-making process. The bees keep passing the nectar from bee to bee, and each time it’s regurgitated, some water is removed. This helps thicken the nectar, turning it into a syrupy liquid.

The bees then place the partially processed nectar into a honeycomb cell. The bees fan their wings over the cells to help evaporate even more water. This process continues until the nectar’s moisture content is reduced to about 17-20%, which is low enough to prevent spoilage.

Once the honey is “ripened,” the bees seal the honeycomb cell with beeswax to protect the honey from moisture and contaminants. This sealed cell becomes a honey-filled cell in the comb.

Why Is Honey Important To Bees?

Honey is incredibly important to bees, as it serves multiple crucial functions in the life of a bee colony. Mainly, it serves as a food source. And in turn, bees are very important for our planet.

Honey is the primary source of food for bees. It is rich in sugars, particularly glucose and fructose, which provide the bees with the energy they need to fly, forage for nectar, maintain their body temperature, and perform various tasks within the hive.

Bees store honey as a food reserve, especially for the winter months when there are fewer or no flowers producing nectar. During the cold season, bees form a cluster in the hive to conserve heat. They feed on stored honey to generate warmth and survive when foraging is not possible.

Honey is a vital part of a bee larva’s diet. Worker bees feed young bee larvae a mixture of honey and pollen, which supplies them with essential nutrients for growth and development. This diet is crucial for the health and development of the future generation of bees.

Worker bees consume honey to fuel their flights to flowers in search of nectar and pollen. This energy source allows them to gather nectar and other resources to bring back to the hive. Honey can also extend the lifespan of worker bees. When bees consume honey, it can slow their aging process and improve their overall health. This can lead to a more productive and efficient workforce within the colony.

In addition, honey serves as a convenient way for bees to store excess nectar. When bees find an abundant nectar source, they convert the surplus into honey, which can be stored for later use. This resource management helps the colony prepare for times when nectar is scarce.

Why Are Bees Important?

Is Honey Vegan

Bees are integral to our planet’s health and well-being due to their vital role as pollinators. They facilitate the reproduction of plants, ensuring the production of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. This not only supports food production but also maintains biodiversity and the health of ecosystems.

Bees are also indicators of environmental health, and their decline can signal broader ecological issues. Bees help purify the air and maintain the health of terrestrial ecosystems by supporting plant life. Their pollination activities are part of the Earth’s natural carbon cycle.

The narrative of honey predates recorded history, with evidence dating back 8,000 years to a cave painting in Spain that illustrates the practice of harvesting honey. It is a product of the natural processes orchestrated by bees, among the planet’s most vital creatures.

Honey bees embark on a journey to millions of blossoms throughout their lifetimes, facilitating the essential process of plant pollination and diligently collecting nectar to transport back to their hives. Protecting and conserving bees is essential for the planet’s health, food security, and economic sustainability.

Why Is Honey Used In Skincare?

Honey is used in skincare due to its multiple properties that make it a desirable ingredient. It is a moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich ingredient that has healing and exfoliating properties.

Firstly, honey has moisturizing features. Honey is a natural humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture. When applied to the skin, it can help hydrate and lock in moisture, leaving your skin soft and supple.

Secondly, honey has natural anti-inflammatory properties, making it effective in soothing irritated or sensitive skin. It can help reduce redness and calm conditions like acne or eczema.

Moreover, honey is rich in antioxidants, which can help protect the skin from oxidative damage caused by free radicals and environmental stressors.

Honey’s antibacterial and wound-healing properties are also well-known. It can help with minor burns, cuts, and other skin injuries. When incorporated into skincare products, honey promotes skin repair and recovery.

Further, honey contains natural enzymes that provide gentle exfoliation. It can help remove dead skin cells, revealing a brighter complexion.

Several natural ingredients offer a trifecta of benefits for skincare like honey does, combining antioxidants, moisturizing properties, and anti-inflammatory effects. For example, aloe vera, with its hydrating and soothing attributes, is rich in antioxidants and compounds that calm irritated skin. Green tea, abundant in catechins, shields the skin from damage and boasts anti-inflammatory benefits. Olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil all contribute to natural moisturization and antioxidant properties.

Read also: What Is Beegan Skincare And Is It Ethical?

FAQ About Honey In Skincare

Is honey vegan?

Honey is not vegan. Honey is a natural sweet substance produced by bees. It is created when bees collect nectar from flowers, transform it through enzymatic digestion and evaporation, and store it in honeycombs to mature.

What is honey made of?

Honey primarily consists of sugars (fructose and glucose), water, vitamins, minerals, and various organic compounds. It is produced by bees from collected nectar from flowers.

How is honey made?

The production of honey begins when bees collect nectar from flowers. They then transform this nectar by enzymatic digestion and evaporation. Afterward, the bees store the nectar in the honeycomb, where it matures into the golden, viscous substance we know as honey.

Why is honey important to bees?

In summary, honey is the lifeblood of a bee colony. It provides essential energy, sustenance for young bees, and a vital food reserve that allows the colony to survive through periods of scarcity. The efficient collection, storage, and use of honey are critical to the survival, productivity, and longevity of a bee colony.

Why is honey not considered vegan?

Honey is not considered vegan because it is a product produced by bees and its collection involves practices vegans find ethically concerning.


Honey, a natural sweet substance produced by bees is a product of animal origin. Honey production involves bees collecting nectar from flowers, which undergoes enzymatic digestion and evaporation before being stored in honeycombs to mature. While honey has been celebrated for its natural benefits and versatility in the beauty world, it is not vegan.

In the realm of skincare, honey is prized for its multiple properties, including moisturization, anti-inflammation, and antioxidant richness. However, natural plant-based ingredients like aloe vera gel, green tea, olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil can provide moisturization, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory effects without the use of animal-derived ingredients.

See also: Best Vegan Makeup Products, Best Vegan Skincare Products



– The Vegan Society. Why Go Vegan? The Honey Industry.
– National Honey Board. How Honey Is Made.
– Ullmann, F (2003). Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. John Wiley & Sons
– Burlando B, Cornara L (2013). Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review. J Cosmet Dermatol
– Villazon, L (2021). How do bees make honey? Science Focus.

Anett is a passionate journalist, writer, and magazine editor with almost 7 years of experience. Through engaging articles, she brings kinder and more environmentally-friendly choices closer to everybody.