[Atlanta Vegan Examiner]
The true, clear cut answer, in my book, is no. A vegan, defined by numerous websites, health books and people is considered a person who does not eat ANY thing that has any type of animal or animal by-product in it; vegans do not believe in eating anything that has caused an animal pain and suffering.
So why is honey such an age old debate? Many vegans who eat honey say things like "the bees aren't killed or harmed in any way when they extract and make the honey." This statement is the furthest from the truth. ...
Being a vegan means that I will not put anything near my mouth that is any part of an animal. I refuse to buy or use products that have been tested on animals or have an animal byproduct in them. If you use alternatives for everything else except honey, I highly suggest you think about using an alternative to honey. One delicious honey replacement is Rice Nectar, which you can buy online at The Vegan Store. It can also be found at Whole Foods, along with another replacement called agave nectar.
[Omaha Vegan Examiner]
This isn't the first time a vegan writer has addressed this question but I'm dissatisfied by the approaches I've observed so far. The debate over the veganity of honey considers whether or not one is cruel or exploitative in harvesting honey from bees.
However, the word "vegan" is not loosely-defined nor a slang term. Rather, "vegan" has a strict definition defended and created by the Vegan Society still operating with educational resources and the first vegan trademark for vegan products. Like it or not, the Vegan Society is the authority on what is or is not vegan. I mean, it's their word!
If a company approaches the Vegan Society with a product absent from all animal products except honey, the product will not qualify to carry the logo. the fact that honey is not vegan by definition is compelling.
However, honey production is actually essential to the smashing and killing of these beings as the above article explains. As a biology student, I also believe this idea is another helping of population dynamics oversimplification or the belief that humans are needed to keep populations of animals within 'normal' amounts. Without getting too technical, bee populations can be supported simply by providing usable resources and habitats specific to the needs of the particular species which would flower the plant/tree.
Pollination, in fact, doesn't actually require a bee. Pollination is simply the exchange of pollen from the anthers to the stamens of a flower or flowers. This means flowering plants can be pollinated artificially; sometimes with nothing more than a brush.