Interesting Facts about the History of Honey

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There's no denying that honey is a delicious, nutritious and versatile ingredient with very ancient origins. But do you know exactly who started consuming honey? And how about the fact that ancient Egyptians used to embalm bodies in honey?  Honey consumption has prehistoric roots, with man consuming this sweet delicacy from at least 8000 years ago. But as you spread it on your toast in the morning, do you ever think about how honey is created or what else it can be used for? It has already been uncovered its medical and beauty purposes, but here are more surprising facts about honey.




It takes about 60,000 bees, collectively traveling up to 55,000 miles and visiting more than 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey. Once the nectar is gathered, the bee stores it in its extra stomach where it mixes with enzymes, and then passes it (via regurgitation) to another bee's mouth. This process is repeated until the nectar becomes partially digested and is then deposited into a honeycomb. The uses of honey in ayurvedic medicines dates back to almost 4000 years, as blended together in herbal preparation, it is believed to enhance the medicinal value of the herbs. Honey is used in ayurvedic preparations to improve eyesight, enhance weight loss and cure impotence. Honey also helps in treating urinary tract disorders, diarrhea, bronchial asthma and nausea.


Humans apparently began hunting for honey at least 8,000 years ago, as evidenced by a cave painting in Valencia, Spain. Perhaps guided by the honeyguide bird which guides humans to wild bee hives almost certainly evolved with early hominids. So far, the oldest remains of honey have been found in Georgia in unearthed ancient tombs, dating back some 4,700–5,500 years. In ancient Egypt, honey was used to sweeten cakes and biscuits, and was used in many other dishes.


Ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern Peoples also Used Honey for Embalming the Dead



Pliny the Elder devotes considerable space in his book Naturalis Historia to the bee and honey, and its many uses. In the absence of sugar, honey was an integral sweetening ingredient in Roman recipes, and references to its use in food can be found in the work of many Roman authors, including Athenaeus, Cato, and Bassus.  




In ancient times, athletes used to consume honey to enhance the endurance level, reduce muscle fatigue and instantly boost the performance. Honey is also known to help in recovery and maintaining glycogen levels. As well as Europe, India and Egypt, the art of beekeeping in ancient China has existed since time immemorial, but also on the other side of the World, in ancient Mesoamerica, the Maya used honey from the stingless bee for culinary purposes.



In Hinduism, honey (Madhu) is one of the five elixirs of immortality (Panchamrita). In Buddhism, honey plays an important role in the festival of Madhu Purnima, celebrated in India and Bangladesh. The day commemorates Buddha's making peace among his disciples by retreating into the wilderness. The legend has it that while he was there, a monkey brought him honey to eat. While in Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the New Year, Rosh Hashanah. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year.




Scriptures from the main three monotheistic religions all mention bees and honey quite extensively. For example, in the Hebrew Bible, which contains many references to honey, the sweet nectar makes an appearance in the Book of Judges, Leviticus Proverbs and Book of Exodus. While in the Christian New Testament, Matthew 3:4, John the Baptist is said to have lived for a long period of time in the wilderness on a diet consisting of locusts and wild honey. In Islam, there is an entire chapter (Surah) in the Qur'an called an-Nahl (the Bee). According to his teachings (hadith), Muhammad strongly recommended honey for healing purposes.