Honey in the life of the ancient Greeks

The art of beekeeping is not something new in Greece. On the contrary, it has been proven that honey played a leading role in the daily life of the ancient Greeks, who were among the first to discover its healing properties and high nutritional value.

This fact is confirmed in the most emphatic way by ceramic hives that were discovered in Phaistos and date from 3400 BC. Also, in the same historical period belongs the uniquely beautiful gold jewel of Knossos, in which two bees hold a honeycomb.

And the art of beekeeping may have come to our country from Egypt, but its acceptance reached such a level that it soon ceased to be considered something “foreign”. If we read the texts that have survived from antiquity we will discover that in Sparta teenagers who were preparing for soldiers, together with their teachers, were called to survive in Taygetos for a month feeding exclusively on honey, while the phrase honeymoon comes from from this habit.

In Athens, beekeeping was so organized that the great legislator Solon (640-558 BC) was forced to define by law the distances that should exist between apiaries so as not to create misunderstandings about the ownership of flocks.

Also, through the books of Aristotle “Stories about animals” and “about animals of genesis” the bee society emerges as a model of study and model of operation, structure and hierarchy of an ideal state, with the great Greek philosopher proceeding to the construction of a glass hive in order to determine the way bees work and live.

Some of the ways in which the ancient Greeks used honey in their daily lives were the following:

Acid honey. Honey with vinegar. How to deal with fever.

Apple honey. Apples preserved in honey throughout the year. The honey acquired the characteristic smell of apples. They parsed the same recipe with other fruits.

Mead honey. Liqueur resulting from alcoholic fermentation of honey.

Melikrato. Honey with milk. Food for children.

Wine honey. Honey with wine. It is reported that Democritus lived to a ripe old age because he consumed wine honey with bread.

Hippocrates excludes the beneficial effect of “wine honey” on healthy and sick, Pythagoras finds that honey eliminates fatigue, while Democritus writes about well-being and longevity because of honey.