Honey and History

The honey bee first appeared on our planet in the Tertiary period at the beginning of the Cenozoic era, that is 65 million years ago - much earlier that the appearance of humans. If we assume that honey appeared together with bees, we can conclude that until almost the 16th century after Christ, honey was the only naturally sweet food in the "known" world.

In Greek mythology, the bee and thus honey, directly or indirectly, occupy an important place.
In this historical period, humans were hunters and food was strongly linked to the area inhabited. In rocky areas, bees easily found shelter for their hives. In the same areas, humans illustrated the process of this impressive hunt. Honey hunters, not animal hunters. In other words, food hunters who do not kill the animal that produces the food - a sweet food which was unique until the discovery of sugar.
Ancient period
The data from this period are so abundant that they could surely fill dozens of books. Here, we will limit our discussion to the Mediterranean region, although it should be noted that there is historical evidence for beekeeping and honey use from all areas of the world, as would be expected the prehistoric findings mentioned above. It is clear that during the ancient period honey was not only used a food but also played a prominent role in religious rites and in the preparation of medicinal remedies, creams, aromas, beverages (alcoholic and digestive) and was slowly being traded from country to country.
From the works of Gaius Plinius the Second, many recipes and uses for honey have been saved. In addition, a majority of the recipes from the Roman recipe collection, "Apicius", include honey as an ingredient.

Middle Ages
In the dark period of the Middle Ages, beekeeping developed into a profession in response to the increase in demand for honey and wax. The population growth together with the link between wax and daily and religious functions served as the moving force of the increased need.

Anglo-Latin by Comenius. Orbis sensualium pictus, 1658, with beekeeping instructions.
Source: Eva Crane.The world History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting

Beekeeping evolved in all of Europe, and new types of hives appeared with the use of building materials which were plentiful in each specific area.

Alchemists increasingly used honey in their recipes due to its properties as an ingredient or its association with alchemistic materials.

Christians encorporated wax candles into their worshipping practices, and there are many written references to honey and bees in ecclesiastic texts citing the characteristic parallelism between the sweetness of honey and the word of God.

The course of beekeeping in the rest of the world followed a similar path to that in Europe. In Islam, honey is a therapeutic food, and there are many references to bees in Arabic literature. The relationship between humans and bees is very well described in the Koran: "...the Lord gave you the bee. He directed the bee to fly between the mountains and to produce wax and honey from its stomach, giving light on one hand and therapy on the other....consider the relationship between bees and plants, their aversion to filth, their obedience to the leader and you will be wonderfully surprised..." (al-Ghazzali,Koran16,68-69).

Modern Era
In the Modern Era, the course of beekeeping was marked by two "discoveries" with conflicting influence on its development.

In recent years, the Western world has re-discovered honey for nutritional and pharmaceutical consumption. The global production is approximately one million tons. Honey consumption is increasing as is the demand for quality honey production, especially for those of us who package only the honey we produce.