Honey has been an important commodity throughout the ancient world. It was found and used in Egypt, India, Persia, Rome, Greece and Arabia. The extensive references of honey can be seen in their art and literature. In Greece nectar was considered as the drink of the gods.
The Rig-Veda, the oldest sacred book of India, compiled during 2000 to 3000 BC, contains many references to both honey and bees. There was a trade in honey by 1000 BC in India.
In the Holy Quran (The Divine Book of Muslims), honey has been ranked at the top among all foods and diets. In Sura 16 of Holy Quran Allah says:
Under the title "The Bee", And thy lord inspired the bee, choose thou habitations in the Hills and in the trees and in that which they thatch; Then eat of all fruit, and follows the ways of thy lord, made smooth or thee. Here cometh forth from, their bellies a drink diverse of hues, wherein is healing for mankind. Herein is indeed a portent for people who reflect."
Due to its much nutrition value, it is used as the first diet to the newly born baby. In some parts of the world, honey is recommended for a person on the death bed. It was the favourite diet of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
A late writer, Ibn Magih, quotes Muhammad (PBUH) as saying:
"Honey is a remedy for all illnesses of the body, and the Holy Quran also said it is remedy for all illness of the mind, therefore, it was recommended to you both remedies, mind and body," the Quran and honey.
It is a sacred and healing diet of all times. The stamps of Honey Bee on the preserved mummies of Egypt (before Christ) indicated its long recognized history. In the Holy Book of Hinduism and Christianity, honey has also been given a high place.
In addition to being an excellent natural food of delicate flavour, honey also has medicinal qualities which have been known from earliest times. Here is an example from the Bible:
'My son eat thou honey for it is good' (Proverbs 24:13).
The years 1500-1850 were characterized by a considerable growth of knowledge about the facts of the life of bees, and by modest developments in beekeeping techniques, some of which give better honey and also avoided unnecessary killing of the bees to get it. In the century of 1900 onwards, techniques for honey production and processing have become more mechanized and specialized.
Due to these modern techniques, world honey production has increased and the packers are now able to provide liquid or granulated honey with a shelf life acceptable to super markets.