Honeybees predate humans by 10 to 20 million years and are one of the oldest
forms of animal life still in existence. Here is a concise history of the
use of honey by humans and beekeeping.
- 50,000 BC - It is highly likely that early
hominids were at least as capable of honey collection, and like
modern apes, australopithecines may have used sticks to retrieve
- Neolithic Age (7000 - 8000 BC) - Primeval
humans gathered and ate the honey and honeycombs of wild bees as
long ago as 8000 B.C A cave painting in Valencia,
Spain shows humans foraging for honey.
- Bronze Age - Pregistoric humans made
mead, a honey-based alcoholic (fermented) beverage. The use of
beeswax most likely dates to this era as well, as it is
prominent in ancient folklore and mythology., being used in the
rites of birth, circumcision, marriage, purification, and death;
embalming, sealing coffins, and mummification as well as
- 3000 - 4000 B.C., Mankind starts keeping
- 2700 BC - Honey, beeswax, and propolis have
been used extensively in medicine as drugs for treating wounds.
- 2600 and 2200 B.C. - Honey was the most
popular ancient Egyptian drug . Almost all Egyptian medicines
contained honey together with wine and milk. The ancient
Egyptians offered honey to their deities as a sacrifice (36).
They also used honey for embalming the dead. Honey was utilized
for its antibacterial properties that helped heal infected
wounds when used as a topical ointment.
- 2000 - 1000 BC - Ancient Greeks drank a
beverage called Oenomel made from honey and unfermented grape
juice. It was also used as a folk remedy for gout and certain
nervous disorders . Hippocrates prescribed a simple diet,
favouring honey given as oxymel (vinegar and honey) for pain,
hydromel (water and honey) for thirst, and a mixture of honey,
water and various medicinal substances for acute fevers. Also he
utilized honey for baldness, contraception, wound healing,
laxative action, cough and sore throat, eye diseases, topical
antisepsis, prevention and treatment of scars.
- 600 - 1000 AD - Islamic medicine considered
honey to be a healthy drink. The holy Qur'an describes the
potential therapeutic value of honey: "And thy Lord taught the
bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s)
habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and
find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues
from within their bodies a drink of varying colors, wherein is
healing for men: verily in this is a sign for those who give
- In medieval times, beeswax was also used as
a currency, exacted as tribute from conquered nations and was
used in writing, painting, sculpturing, and protecting works of
art, as well as for illumination.
- 1622 AD - The honey bee (Apis mellifera L.)
as we know it today, is not native to the Western
Hemisphere. Native Americans did collect wax and honey from
native stingless bees (Meliponids and Trigonids) in the West
Indies, Central and South America, but the European honeybee is
far more productive. Pilgrims brought the first honey bees to North America in the 1600s.
- 1850's - European
honeybees had spread across the continent by the
1850s.Settlers used set box traps to trap worker bees and then release them to
follow the bees back to their hive.
- 1852, L. L. Langstroth, a Congregational
minister from Pennsylvania, invented and patented a hive with
movable frames that is still used today. This caused honey
production to soar.
History of Beekeeping in America,m Beesource.com, EVERETT
OERTEL, Retired, formerly apiculturist, U.S. Department of
Iranian Journal of Nasic Medical Sciiences