Honey’s connection to humanity goes way back in the past. The ancient Greeks had given divine proportions to honey and we have references of whom that connect honey to the Olympian gods. They used honey from early times in medicine and Hippocrates himself has written about its salutary use. He used honey based mixtures, such as “melikriton” (honey and water) and “oksymeli” (honey combined with vinegar) to help his patients suffering from severe pain relief. Furthermore, he mentioned that honey could lighten up someone’s face colour and it is as helpful to patients as it is to healthy people.
Pythagoras reached the result that honey could diminish physical exhaustion and, after a long and hard time in mental or menial work, honey could restore people’s energy. The Spartan trainers used to retire in mount Taygetos along with the teenagers trainees for a month, feeding themselves only with honey (honeymoon).
The most ancient man in the history of apiculture is Aristeus, who was the seed of Apollo’s love with nymph Craneus. When Aristeus was born, Hermes handed over him to Gaia and the Horae (or the Hours) who raised Aristeus by dripping nectar and ambrosia (honey) at his lips to turn him into an immortal. Aristeus’ myth shows us a developed sense of apiculture in ancient times.
During excavations at Crete, in Faistos, there were found honeycombs made of clay aged since the Minoan Era (3.400 B.C.), much older than the Homeric Era. In the ancient city of Knossos, a sing was found that had written all over it <All gods are offered with honey: an amphora>. That phrase is written in the syllabic alphabet found in Linear B of the 14th Century, and was translated by the British architect Michael Ventris in 1952.
Reports of some kind of honey and milk mixture are found in the “Odyssey”, while Aristotle’s writings had been a turning point for the apicultural development in ancient Greece.
The ancient Egyptians used honey-based herbals. It has been reported, amongst others, a honey-based paste used over circumcision cuts, something that gives us an idea of how well the Egyptians had been aware of honey’s antibacterial properties. It has also been reported that many of Queen Cleopatra’s cosmetics used honey as a substantial component. According to the Egyptian mythology, the falling tears of Ra turned into bees the moment it touched the ground. Honey considered to be rather precious in ancient Egypt, as it was offered to the gods as a token of dedication. During the 14th Century, Pharaoh Ramses II offered 15 tons of honey to the god of river Nile, whereas vessels full of honey were buried along with the dead as an afterlife food. Certain amounts of honey have been discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Until the first half of the 18th Century, honey had been the only sweetener in human’s service and was considered as a royal and elegant kind of food. The people had been given to eat royal jelly, as nobody was aware of its capabilities and thought of it as a lower level food.
The longevity of curtain populations that lived in the past centuries is attributed to that feature by the scientists.
The European type of beehive, as we know it today, was not discovered until 1851 by an American, named Lorenzo Lorane Langstroth. Modernization took some time to take place in Greece. As a matter of fact it did not occur until 1903. According to official numbers of that specific year, Greece had 201.314 beehives of domestic design (baskets) and of them, only 412 – a mere 0,2%- were in European design beehives. By 1912, 3.000 beehives had been traded with those of European design. After the end of War World 2, the Department of Apiculture of the Greek Ministry of Agriculture provided the Greek beekeepers with 93.500 beehives, 3.100 honey extractors and 3.000.000 artificial honeycombs, all for free.
In that way, the development and growth of the Greek apiculture was given a serious boost and it has not stopped modernizing since then. Private sector’s beekeeping seminars, along with those of the Ministry’s, contribute to the constant education and growth of the Greek apiculture’s potential.
Greek honey is part of the world’s -cream foam quality- kinds of honey, as it is the least processed and the only one that has been verified. In that way, all of its components are known and is easy for someone to check on its purity and authenticity.