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Honey As Commodity Throughout History

By August 23, 2022October 5th, 2023Honey Blog

Imagine going to the supermarket to buy a loaf of bread. You pick your loaf, come to the register, and instead of money, you give the cashier a jar of honey. She would think you’ve gone crazy or look around to see if she was on some prank television show. Well that wasn’t the case throughout history. People used to trade with honey and use it as a valuable currency just like money.

Honey has been a valuable commodity since ancient times. In ancient times honey was often used as payment for tax or rent. For example, in Book 2 of Homer’s Odyssey Odysseus tells his son Telemachus that his grandfather Autolycus once stole a herd of cattle from Ithaca and sold it to Eurynomus for 4 pots full of honey. So imagine how many loaves of bread you could’ve bought with a couple of spoonfuls of honey.

But let’s rewind it back.

Ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks

First evidence of honey has been found in the Sumerian and Babylonian writings, the Hittite code, the sacred writings of India, the Vedas and in the ancient writings of Egypt. It dated all the way back to the 30th century B.C.

The ancient Egyptians used honey as currency and considered it a gift from the gods. In ancient Egypt, beekeeping was a highly-prized skill that only the elite were allowed to practice. It was a symbol of royalty and power.

The ancient Egyptians also believed that bees were sacred animals that brought new life into the world with their pollen. The Egyptians also used honey as a remedy for various ailments such as heart disease, indigestion, constipation, ulcers, headaches and colds.

While the ancient Greeks also valued honey for its medicinal qualities, they did not consume it as often as other civilizations did.

The Romans, however, were great consumers of both honey and beeswax candles and prized it as valuable and tradeable currency. It was the basis of their cooking, and they held honey as a sacred prize.

Middle Ages and Renaissance

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, honey was a commodity that was required by feudal lords to be given to them by peasants. German peasants were required to give their feudal lords a payment of honey and beeswax. This was called “the honey tax.” If they did not comply with this law, they would be punished by their lord or even face death.

This practice was common in many parts of Europe during this time period, but it was particularly widespread in the 17th century in Germany. The demand for honey was so high that sometimes people would even pay more for honey than grapes or apples.

There were many ways that people could get their hands on some sweet stuff: they could steal it from beehives or buy it from a merchant who sold it at market prices. In some cases, peasants would even use violence against other people to get what they wanted!

Honey As A Commodity Today

Today the worldwide honey market value has climbed all the way to 8 billion USD. Beekeeping today is a lucrative profession, as the demand for honey has increased over the years. But beekeeping is not an easy task at all. It requires a lot of time and patience as well as hard work to keep the bees alive and healthy.

Beekeepers have to protect their beehives from predators such as ants, wasps, birds and mice; they must also ensure that they do not interfere with other animals’ food sources or habitats. Also the bee population has been declining, especially in Europe and North America, due to climate change, pesticides and other factors.

Honey has been used as a commodity for thousands of years, and its use continued even after sugar was introduced as a cheaper substitute, so you can bet this liquid gold has a lot to offer.