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History of Honey

Summary: The bible makes many references to honey, but the history of honey goes back much farther in time. Evidence shows that humans have been collecting it for 10,000 years.

This is “the land of milk and honey" as they say. Milk may do a body good, but honey is no may do it even better. Humans have been utilizing its medicinal purposes for the past 2,700 years. That highly preservable sweet you use to sweeten your tea is a lot more versatile than you thought.

The oldest known evidence of honey being collected by humans can be traced to a cave in Valencia, Spain. There you will find a very nice depiction of what historians believe is a picture of two men gathering honey and honeycombs. Fast forward a few millennia and again evidence of man's use of honey can be found in the Old Testament.


Moses was to lead his followers to the "land flowing with milk and honey" according to the book of Exodus. Samson apparently found some honey inside the carcass of a lion (though we don't suggest you should look there).  And, according to Matthew 3:4,  John the Baptist survived on a diet consisting of just honey and locusts (another example of what not to do with honey, in my humble opinion). Yet, nevertheless what does this say?  It says that honey is a lot more pervasive and useful than many of us might think. But, the use honey throughout history doesn't stop at Christianity. It is said that Muhammad, believing in the medicinal benefits of honey, was a strong advocate. The Buddhist of India used it in their festival that marks Buddha's retreat into the wild.  And, at the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the dish used to usher in the New Year is apples dipped in honey. Now, that's a recipe I would recommend.

During the time of Julius Caesar and Marcus Aurelius, honey was used as a substitute for gold to pay taxes. Thus, beekeeping was obviously very popular in Ancient Rome.  Wouldn't that be nice if our tax code adhered to Roman law? The Ancient Egyptians were honey collectors, too. In fact, the Egyptians are credited as the first people to harvest beehives. One hundred pots of this sweet concoction were the same value as an ox under the reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Seti. 

The history of honey shows its uses don't stop just as an alternate to currency, either. The Egyptians and other ancient people of the Middle East and Asia also used it in their embalming and mummification processes.  Interesting fact: Honey was used to preserve the head of Vlad III Tepes, better known as Dracula, in route to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Think about that the next time you sweeten your tea.


In the U.S., the most prevalent figure most Americans associate with honey is Winnie the Pooh, with his hand stuck in the honey jar. Yet, the fact is that, while bears will consume about anything that crosses their way, they're typically not after the honey that is produced in the beehive.  They are actually after the more nutritious and protein rich, albeit less appetizing, bee larvae.  But, that doesn't make for a very good children's book character, now does it?

Honey certainly is a versatile commodity, but even now, most people are unaware of its medicinal purposes. Honey can be used for topical application, antiseptic as well as an antibacterial. And, we all know that when you have a sore throat, tea with lemon and honey is just what the doctor ordered. Honey can also be used to diminish the harm inflicted on the colon due to colitis. Yes, it's true. Honey used as a topical has the ability to treat diabetic ulcers.

The fact is that honey is a magnificent gift found in nature. The history of honey is a significant part of our history, and will have an ever-increasing role in our future. 

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