The Olive Table

About Greek Honey

Apiculture is the art of bee cultivation in order to produce honey.  In Greece, the art of apiculture first took place in early prehistoric times, and there are a myriad of myths related to it.  Greek mythology reflects honey’s special value in its references to honey as “ambrosia” – the food of the Gods of Olympus.

The fact that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, emphasized the nutritional and pharmaceutical value of honey is not accidental. In ancient Greece, honey was used not only for its nutritional value but also for medicinal purposes.  Honey also played an important role in ancient Greece as one of the basic ingredients in cooking and in the preparation of sweets.

Greece, despite its small size, is one of the most suitable places for apiculture due to its rich flora and temperate climate.  The high quality and unique characteristics of Greek honey reflect the country’s long sunshine periods and the abrupt changes in the landscape.  The unique characteristics of the landscape make Greek flora so rich that of the 7,500 different species of plants found growing in Greece, 850 of them are found exclusively in Greece.  This explains why certain varieties of honey produced in Greece are not found anywhere else in the world.

Of exceptional quality is the honey produced from flowers such as Orange and Mediterranean Heather (‘Reiki’), as well as Forest honey from coniferous trees such as fir and pine.  These unique and exceptional honey varieties derive their  flavor from the nectar of  plants and flowers absorbed by bees, or from the sap of the coniferous trees.  Forest honey is thick with a fresh, earthy flavor, and is packed with minerals including potassium, iron and magnesium.  Its total sugar content is much lower than traditional flower honey.

Honey is a traditional Greek product and one of the country’s top exports.  Along with olive oil, it is one of the staples of the Greek diet.  Greece produces well over 12 000 metric tons of honey every year, and most of this is exported.

In Greece, even today, the art of apiculture combines quality and tradition: the practice and knowledge are typically passed from generation to generation.  Greeks who practice apiculture are true nomads, moving their hives across the country and into the mountains, looking for concentrated areas of blossoming or forests thick with coniferous trees to obtain honey with the purest flavor.