Saturday, 3 May 2014

Greek Honey

Walking into the community of Nikiti we were hit by the tangible perfume of honey drifting through the air. In this small town alone there are 150 beekeepers who manage over 85,000 bee colonies and produce 1200 tonnes of honey annually, an eighth of Greece's total production.
Honey is considered to be the worlds most ancient of sweeteners and has been used across the millennia. Aristole called it the nectar of the Gods. Greek mythology tells that Zeus was raised on honey.
The Greeks love honey - drizzled over their rich creamy yogurt, soaked in cakes, and pastries - loukamades (honey puff balls) melamacarano (honey macaroon cookies) sesame and honey bars.
via
From ancient times honey has not only been used as a sweetener but as a natural beauty agent, and in some cultures used for its medicinal attributions. I did a post here on the medicinal wound healing qualities of Mānuka Honey.
Honey contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants too.
At the honey co-operative we were asked if we knew what these were? Which of course we did, they are so similar to our own bee skep. 
The Greek skeps appear to be made of cane then covered in clay whilst ours is made of straw woven together with cane.
A thought to ponder, a singleproduces a gram of honey every 9 - 12 days after she has visited about 30,000 - 40,000 flowers. No wonder we use the term "busy as a bee".

74 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary,

    This honey looks so delectable and, surely, does taste like nectar from the gods. How we could devour some hot toast with a thick layer of this honey spread on it right now!

    We are fortunate to have an outdoor market close by to us here in Budapest where honey made by country bee keepers is brought in. So many different varieties and such a range of colours depending on the flowers from which the pollen has been taken. Beekeeping is such a science!

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    1. Dear Jane & Lance - we sampled honey from several different plant sources - the ones that I preferred were Thyme and Sweet Horse-chestnut. We were unable to bring any home with us because of the stupid flying rule of no containers in hand luggage over 100 ml - we didn't fancy smashed jars of honey in our luggage.

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  2. Yummy, I'm thinking Baklava right now!
    Your skep is looking very good in that niche.

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    1. Dear Jessica - the skep has been in the wall for two weeks along with the little bee chalet which is on the house wall, but so far, sadly, no bees have taken any interest.

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  3. I hope you managed to bring me some honey back Rosemary and I look forward to hearing how the skep will work out in your garden this summer. I hear they are looking for a new des-res in your area!

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    1. Sadly Mr. Paul due to restrictions on carrying products in containers over 100 ml in hand luggage we could not treat ourselves. Broken honey jars in our luggage we did not want.
      Hope you are right about the bees being on the look out for a new des-res here.

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  4. lovely blog entry and interesting info once again! love the first pic and the way u added the little cuties:-)
    I am a big honey-lover, we buy always honey from the places we visit+have a pretty international collection at home...happy sunny weekend+greetings from tulipland!

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    1. Thanks Jana - tulipland must be looking absolutely gorgeous at the moment.
      I wish I had been able to bring some home with me, I really feel that I could do with some as I picked up a chest infection, I believe, on the plane coming home.

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  5. The Poppies are lovely.
    Honey is natures gift for so many things. We have many varieties here.

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    1. I think that we were shown about 12 different flavours. Most were different from ours as they do not have heather and I did not see any clover either.

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  6. What amazing skeps! I guess that they are rather more waterproof than ours are! Love your first picture which you have embellished - very cute indeed! xx

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    1. The straw skep, surprisingly, is waterproof - rather like a thatched roof on a house.

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  7. Lovely pictures of Greece in your previous post. There is a vibrant quality to the light so welcome on a grey wet day. The bees in our garden are busy, I often bump into them when I stray on to a flight path. It is a gentle encounter with the natural world.

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    1. I am pleased that you have plenty of bees in your garden Susan. You are right about the quality of the light in Greece. When I think of Greece I always imagine it as blue and white with touches of yellow.

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  8. I wonder if your skep is inhabited yet? On sunny days this week my garden has been full of bees - of many species, not all of them those aggressive tree bees!

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    1. No Nilly, my des res are still vacant, and I am not even charging for them!

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  9. Absolutely fascinating Rosemary. I've fallen a little bit in love with Bees and honey recently.

    Jean x

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    1. Me too Jean - it is only since I began to realise the threat to the bee population, but it is cheering to find out that the bee is being well catered for around the world.

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  10. Thank you for this sweet information, Rosemary ;O) I use honey with some tea, when I'm getting a flu...

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    1. I have returned home with a chest infection, from the plane journey I think, so I could do with some honey too.

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  11. Hello Rosemary, I may have mentioned before that there is a lot of honey production in Taiwan, and many special varieties, such as longyan honey. I am wondering now if beekeepers here just use modern box-type hives, or something more like those bee skeps. I'll have to check it out--one certainly sees lots of bamboo, wicker, etc.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - with the skills that they have in Taiwan you would imagine that they would use their bamboo and wicker to make bee skeps. If you find anything out I would be very interested to know - I enjoyed discovering the bee skeps in Greece.

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  12. I am now craving buttered toast, dripping with honey.
    It would be a treat to visit a place that smells like honey - deep breaths of honeyed air!

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    1. It is very reassuring, when the worlds bee population is under threat, to know that so many people are doing their best to ensure the bees survival.

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  13. Anmother interesting post - thank you - your posts always make me want to visit the places you write about.

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    1. What a very kind comment Susan - thank you very much, and I am pleased that you found it interesting.

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  14. Such a wonderful post, Rosemary. Only today I was talking to someone who has a holiday home in Turkey and is involved in village beekeeping there - I imagine it must be quite similar (although this beekeeping isn't on the same scale, of course). The Greek skeps are fascinating.

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    1. The Turkish people like the Greeks love their honey, so I am not surprised that your friend has become involved in beekeeping. I find it reassuring, as I am sure that you do too, that so many people are helping the bees all around the world.

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  15. So interesting visiting a place with a smell of honey. I wonder if the bees have already discovered your skeps, so nice to have honey outof own garden.

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    1. Dear Janneke - I placed my bee skep and also the bee chalet in the garden two weeks ago, but sadly so far, no little bees have made it their home.

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  16. Adoro pão com manteiga e mel por cima...uma delícia!
    beijo
    Graça

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    1. Dear Graça - Você está certo - alguns propagação pão duro com manteiga e mel é perfeito

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  17. Must be great to smell the perfume of honey. Interesting information about the bee's I did not know. We always take honey home when we visit Greece.
    Have a wonderful sunday Rosemary

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    1. Sadly we had already packed our cases when we visited the honey co-operative, and due to hand baggage restrictions were unable to carry any home. It was very reasonable - 8€ for a kilo and 9€ for some of the more unusual flavoured honey.

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  18. Dear Rosemary,
    mmmh - yummy, yummy - Greek honey is so lovely! At the moment I read the suitable book to your theme: "Falling in Honey. Life and Love on a Greek Island" by Jennifer Barclay; quite nice and cheerfull.

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    1. Dear Brigitta - the book sounds as if it would have been perfect reading for my trip. I have found it on Amazon and it has a look inside arrow so I will read some of it.

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  19. A lovely post. I love Greek honey with Greek yoghurt and a juicy peach for breakfast when I am in Greece. Food for the gods!

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    1. Thank you for visiting - glad that this post gave you happy memories of Greece.

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  20. What a lovely post....we met a bee swarm when out walking last week... A bit scary

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    1. I was once chased by a bee swarm - a very frightening experience. Our neighbour had been starving his bees to make them go foraging, and the first thing that they spotted was me. Fortunately I was not allergic to their stings.

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  21. Love your graphics Rosemary. Your posts always look so bright and cheerful. Honey is so versatile and especially soothing with lemon juice for a sore throat.
    Betty

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    1. Honey and lemon sounds perfect to me at the moment Betty - I picked up a chest infection on the return flight. Thank you for your kind comment.

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  22. Dear Rosemary,

    I do believe you were fated to find that honey cooperative — by the time your own bees arrive you will be quite an authority!

    Speaking as a graphic designer, I have to say that the Greek packaging you photographed is very handsome. It's such a pleasure for me to see Greek as a beautiful modern typography!

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    1. It was a strange coincidence going to a Honey Co-operative - it just happened to be a little extra thrown in on a days outing that we took.
      I enjoyed the typography on the honey tins too.

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  23. Hello, Rosemary! Thank you for this sweet post. Honey is a great natural food though we have to be careful about giving it to a baby. I love honey and often use it in cooking but have never tasted Greek honey. My mother used to put honey on my dry lips in my childhood. You must have enjoyed making the first image – it’s so nice and pleasant to see, it made me cheerful. I’ve been busy as a bee these weeks but I could catch my breath during the Golden Week holiday.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - I wonder if the Golden Week holiday is the same as our May holiday that we are having at the moment.
      I do wish that I had been able to bring some honey back with us, but we had already packed our suitcases before the visit to the co-operative, and you cannot carry anything over 100 ml in hand baggage. It was a very reasonable price for a lovely product so that is a big regret.

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    2. Golden Week abbreviated as GW is a holiday period which contains 5 national holidays, weekends, and if a national holiday falls on a weekend, additional day becomes holiday (this year May 6). So this year GW was not a large scale because it was divided to two parts, April 26, 27, 29 and May 3 to 6. (May Day is not a public holiday in Japan.) In the balmy breeze of May, people go on holidaymaking, if only they can endure traffic jam and more expensive accommodation than usual.

      Hope you had a nice May holiday.

      Yoko

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  24. Suppose you had a lovely stay and experiences , here in Greece. I love and use honey as well, it's better than sugar sometimes. Hope you brought some genuine honey at home !
    Happy new week Rosemary !
    Olympia

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    1. We had a very happy visit to your lovely country Olympia - it was made especially so by the very friendly and kind Greek staff in the hotel we stayed at.

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  25. I use honey in my tea..and I drink a lot, so honey never lacks in my kitchen ! Italian honey in this case :-) And we should really take care of our precious bees, and avoid unnecessary spraying !

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    1. I hope that the message from so many people about spraying is finally getting through to the authorities.

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  26. Great first flower picture

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Filip and thank you.

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  27. I'm just thinking I don't eat enough honey.....great post, love the little bees.

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    1. I tend to make the mistake of buying honey and not consuming it quick enough. It then turns sugary and is not as good as when it is runny. I am definitely going to get myself a wooden honey dipper which we found worked so well at our hotel.

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  28. Dear Rosemary, Lovely photographs you have taken and shared with us. Maybe you can buy a queen bee and her entourage for your skep.
    It is believed in these parts that if you eat local honey you won't be bothered with allergies.

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    1. Dear Gina - I don't actually have the knowledge to be a keeper of honey bees. My skep and chalet are to make homes, hopefully, for the many species of solitary bees.
      I can well believe that what you say about allergies is true - it could be that by eating honey on a fairly regular basis you acquire an immunity to allergies. Many allergies are caused by pollen, and honey contains pollen.

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  29. I love honey and consume many jars in a year. I have a friend who holidays in Greece every year she always brings me honey back with her and I must say it is pretty wonderful. Interesting to know the history behind it.

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    1. Unfortunately we visited the co-operative on the day of the evening when we left Greece. Our luggage was all packed and locked. Because of the hand luggage restrictions only allowing us to carry 100 ml containers we were unable to bring any back which was a pity as it was very reasonably priced. I could do with some now as I picked up a chest infection from the plane.

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  30. Hello Rosemary

    This is a fabulous post, so colourful and I can almost scent the flowers and honey. I hope the nonsensical carry on rules change soon. We love to bring home items like this from our travels.

    Have a delightful week

    Helen xx

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    1. Hello Helen - I agree whole heartedly - such a silly rule. We could easily have popped a couple of tin of this delicious honey into our hand luggage. It would have been obvious to the officials if we had tampered with the tin and opened it - sometimes officialdom is crazy.

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  31. I am always entertained and enlightened when I visit, Rosemary....
    Cheers!
    Linda:o)

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    1. Thank you Linda - so pleased to have you visit.

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  32. Have you tried thyme honey ? And orange blossom honey ? They are sooo good :) So sorry you could not take some jars home ...

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    1. Yes, we sampled about 12 different honey flavours. I liked the thyme most along with the sweet chestnut. I don't think that we were given a sample of orange blossom, but I am sure that it is lovely. In this country we mainly have heather, borage, cherry blossom, and hawthorn honey.

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  33. Hi Rosemary,

    The honey looks really tasty.
    Bea Cupcake

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    1. Wish we had been able to bring some home.

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  34. The smell and varieties of honey must have been wonderful what a shame that your bag was already packed. Hope you have recovered from your chest infection. Sarah x

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    1. Hopefully I have turned the corner Sarah - I think that my infection is a risk one takes with travel these days. The planes tend to recycle the air to save on fuel.

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  35. Mmm, I love honey, especially locally produced honey such as this. Are the Greek bee-keepers managing to keep their hives free of the pests and diseases which are so badly affecting the bee population in other countries, Rosemary?

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    1. Dear Perpetua - the bee co-operative was in a fairly quiet and remote peninsular and I gained the impression that everything about it was all very natural.

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  36. Honey is the only sweet thing I like the most. Else I like to eat spicy food. Especially Greek honey is something since when I heard about it, I am eating only it. I am craving for Greek honey to have it in almost my all dishes :)

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    1. Thanks for visiting - enjoy the Greek honey but don't eat too much, it is loaded with calories.

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