If you’ve holidayed in Greece and stopped by the side of the road to buy a jar of honey you may well have been captured by the magic of Greek honey.
But think about this.
When you buy that honey, you are actually connecting with a heritage that goes back thousands of years - at least to ancient Greece - and maybe much further. (In fact, it is believed Greek beekeeping practices were brought to Greece from Ancient Egypt.)
Hives dating back to 3400BC have been discovered in Greece. As beekeeping progressed Greeks used tree hollows, clay pots and eventually beehives with frames to keep bees.
Honey played a major part...
Hippocrates, the father of medicine wrote: "Honey and pollen cause warmth, clean sores and ulcers, soften hard ulcers of lips, heal carbuncles and running sores."
He had various mixtures to treat different conditions, all using honey. For example, he used a formulation on honey and vinegar for pain or mixtures of honey and various substances to cure fevers. Hippocrates had also written about mixing honey with components such as sodium carbonate and other ingredients for treating ulcers.
In daily use, honey was put in milk and given as a food to children. It was also used to preserve fruit, especially apples throughout the year. Mead, but also wine with honey were popular drinks at the time.
Honey was believed to be one of the foods of the gods.
The bee became a symbol for Artemis, goddess of wilderness and the Thirai, the nymphs. The symbol of the bee can be found on Ephesian coins and gold plaques.
A minor god in Greek mythology, Aristaeus, was the god of Beekeeping.
Science around the bees did not stop there for Ancient Greeks, as bees were used in order to predict the rain as well and were even named “weather prophets”.
Bees also had the power to predict the rain, as we can find in the writing of Aristotle, Varro, Vergil and Pliny. Bees are entitled here “weather prophets”.
We hope you enjoyed reading about honey in Ancient Greece and that you were able to find new information.
Next we will talk about the different types of Greek Honeys and their benefits so make sure to tune in on Friday for that.