A HISTORY OF HONEY IN BRIEF

It is not known exactly when and where humans included honey into their everyday life first. Still, the bees have been known for a long time, maybe for 9000 years or so, because they have been found depicted in ancient cave paintings of that time in Spain. The pictures of beehives were found in the sun temple erected in the Cairo neighbourhood in 2400 BC.

Ancient Egyptians used honey as a sweetener to their food, a gift to their gods and even as ingredient to prepare the fluid for embalming process. Cakes baked with honey also used to be given by the Egyptians as offerings to their gods, later the same tradition was passed to the Greeks. It is thought that ancient Greeks started to use honey not just as food but also for healing purposes.  Recipe books of ancient Greeks contain lots of descriptions how to prepare sweetmeat and cakes with honey. 

The Romans also produced honey and used it as an offering to placate their gods. During Roman Empire period of prosperity, beekeeping spread across the entire Empire. After the Christianity became dominant, popularity of honey and bee wax increased even more, because candles became a commodity to be manufactured.

Honey started to lose its popularity in the Renaissance, because since then honey was no longer only one sweetener. It was supplemented by sugar brought to Europe. The sugar quickly became a popular sweetener, and honey consumption decreased.

Did you know that pope Urban VIII family had three bees in their coat of arms? It used to be a common phenomenon – to include bees in various items of art. The bees were thought to have special powers. Napoleon’s Flag of Elba also has had three golden bees on a red strip on a white background, and his robe was embroidered with bees.