Q. Beeswax is a secretion from a gland located in the abdominal section of worker bees. It has important applications in the food industry. For example, it is used as a coating for cheese to protect the food as it ages, and as a coating on high-end candy to help lock in the flavor. Since beeswax is a glandular secretion, one would assume it to be non- kosher as mentioned previously in this Halacha Yomis series. Is that the case?
A. Rav Belsky, zt”l ruled that beeswax is kosher because it is tasteless and has the status of nifsal mei’achila (unfit for human consumption). In fact, there are many proofs from the Rishonim and Achronim that beeswax is kosher.
As a side bar, Rabbeinu Chananel (11th century Talmudist) writes in his commentary to Shabbos 134a that beeswax is a waste product of honey. This seems to conflict with the contemporary scientific view that beeswax is a secretion of the bee. Rav Belsky, zt”l suggested that Rabbenu Chananel considers beeswax a waste product of honey because bees consume their own honey and then convert the sugar in honey into wax and secrete the wax from special glands. In this sense, beeswax is a waste product of honey.
This column comes from OU Kosher’s Halacha Yomis dedicated in memory of Rav Chaim Yisroel ben Reb Dov HaLevy Belsky, zt’l, Senior OU Kosher Halachic Consultant (1987-2016). Subscribers can also ask their own questions on Kashrus issues and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. These questions and their answers may be selected to become one of the Q and A’s on OU Kosher Halacha Yomis.