Bees are animals; they are insects and insects fall into the animal category in biological sciences. By definition, vegans do not consume honey as it is an animal product. The bees will collect nectar in their stomachs and there, it is turned into honey, which is then regurgitated when they get back to the hive. Therefore, it is most definitely an animal product.
|'bee on sunflower' by jlodder|
However, not only is it an animal product, but there are some animal rights issues surrounding honey and its uses:
"The queen bee is usually killed every year and a new queen introduced to the colony.5 The queen may have her wings clipped to prevent her from flying; this is to stop the bees carrying out their natural instinct to swarm (the old queen and a large proportion of the bees leaving the nest once the colony has provided a new queen to replace her)."
Source: The Vegan Society
"Bees are often killed, or their wings and legs torn off, by haphazard handling."
Source: Saint Francis Couture
"Often, queen bees are artificially inseminated."
|'Bee happy' by Glisglis|
Not to mention that the bees are basically factory farmed and their honey stolen (the honey that they accumulate for the winter and hard times naturally) just so we can have something sweet in our drinks or bread. The honey that is taken from the bees is usually replaced with sugar or syrup.
"Some beekeeping schools and beginner’s books advocate feeding sugar syrup to bees in the fall to carry them through the winter."One bee only makes 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its entire lifetime. There is a good write up available here that is full of more research and in depth information if you would like to learn more.
Even if you don’t care about the animal rights issues involved in honey production, you should think about the environmental impact of what you eat (more info here too).
Alternatives to honey include: agave nectar, maple syrup, raw sugar, rice syrup and more.