When did people start to eat honey?
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

History of honey

Chimpanzee getting honey
Chimpanzee smashing a beehive to get honey

June 2016 - Bees first began to make honey about 200 million years ago, long before there were any people. People almost certainly ate wild honey even before they evolved into people, as monkeys do when they can get it. Chimpanzees strip leaves from sticks and then push the sticks into beehives in tree trunks or underground to get the honey. Probably early people in Africa also used sticks to scoop honey out of beehives. Honey is a great source of carbohydrates, plus it tastes delicious! In addition, you can use honey to preserve food so it won't go bad.

Arana cave honey gathering
Gathering honey (Arana Cave,
Spain, 8000 BC)

When people first left Africa, about 60,000 BC, they kept on looking for wild beehives and getting the honey out of them. People were collecting honey in Europe using baskets or hollow gourds by at least 8000 BC.

Egyptian beehives
Egyptian bee-keeping, 5th Dynasty
(Temple of Pharaoh Niuserre at Abu Gorab, ca. 2400 BC)

Climbing trees to get honey is dangerous and difficult, and that made honey very expensive. At some point, people began to capture beehives by taking home sections of hollow logs that had beehives inside them.

People were keeping bees by making clay beehives for them to live in by the time of Old Kingdom Egypt, in 2400 BC. Keeping your own bees was a lot easier! But by this time, most people probably weren't even keeping their own bees. They bought honey at the store, or got it as a gift from their boss or their governor. Bee-keepers were mostly professionals, as they are today - trained slaves working on big honey farms with hundreds of hives, often owned by the government.

Learn by doing: dip apple slices in honey for a great snack
More about honey

Bibliography and further reading about honey:

More about Sugar
More about honey
Quatr.us home


LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Quatr.us Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Proud of your class page, homework page, or resource page? Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more?
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 27 March, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT