Malia Pendant, a gold pendant found in a tomb in 1930 at Malia, Crete, dating to the Minoan civilization, 1800-1650 BC. Present location: Heraklion Archaeological Museum (Credit: T2G Photo library)

Greek honey, nature’s divine gift you can’t resist 

Unique because of the country's famed biodiversity and temperate climate

856 views

From ancient times to the present, Greek honey has been collected for its nutritional, pharmaceutical properties and delicious, sweet taste. A staple ingredient in local cuisine and a symbol of abundance, fertility and well-being, Greek honey is famous around the world.

Hives dating back to 3400BC have been discovered in Greece, proving that beekeeping has been vital to Greek life since antiquity. According to Greek mythology, the first apiarist was the demigod Aristaeus. Hippocrates, the father of  medicine wrote: “Honey and pollen cause warmth, clean sores and ulcers, soften hard ulcers of lips, heal carbuncles and running sores.” Aristotle declared Attica honey the best while in Minoan Crete, where bees were considered sacred and as such celebrated in intricate tomb decorations.

The longstanding history of Greek apiculture continues to this day. There are about 25,000 beekeepers in the country and about 1.3 million hives.

Greek honey is unique because of the country’s famed biodiversity and the typically Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and long, dry, hot summer periods. The rich variety of Greek flora, which includes over 850 species found nowhere else in the world makes the country a playground for bees, who produce this unique golden nectar. Furthermore, scientific studies have confirmed that Greek honey varieties are rich in compounds such as polyphenols and phenolic acids.

Basic Varieties Of Greek Honey

THYME: One of the most appreciated honey. It is often more expensive than other types of honey mainly because thyme-fed bees produce less honey, making it rarer. It has an intense herbal aroma and is rich in plant compounds, antioxidants and phytonutrients. It tends to crystallize after about 6 to 18 months. Crete, Kithira and the Dodecanese are renowned for their thyme honey.

PINE: Sweet and spicy, with some woody notes, pine honey has the highest percentage of antioxidants of all Greek honey. The monastic communities at Mount Athos in Halkidiki are renowned for their pine honey production and throughout Greece pine honey makes up 60–65% of total honey production. It does not crystallise easily. Euboea, Chalkidiki, Thassos, Skopelos, Zakynthos and Rhodes stand out as pine honey production areas.

CITRUS FRUIT: Light, sweet and fragrant it is often described as a combination of floral and fruity notes. It has a light amber colour, a delicate floral flavour and can crystallise more easily. The main production areas of citrus fruit honey are Epirus, the Peloponnese, Crete and the islands.

HEATHER: Strong and thick, with a dark,reddish colour, it is a monofloral honey variety made from the flowers of the heather plant. It tends to crystallise in about three months.

CHESTNUT: One of the rarest Greek honey, it is made from the flowers of the chestnut tree – it is rich in mineral salts and characterized by a dark amber color and its taste is bittersweet. The chestnut tree is widespread throughout the mountainous areas of Greece with Epirus being home to this unusual honey.

FIR: With its impressive pearl-amber color, characteristic metallic highlights, and thick caramel-like texture Fir honey is considered one of the rarest. It is being produced by bees collecting honeydew secretions from the firs of Greek forests. It is rich in minerals and almost never crystallizes. It is produced mainly in the mountainous regions of Evritania, Pindos, Olympos, mountains Mainalo, Parnonas Helicon and Chelmos in the Peloponnese and Mt. Parnitha in Attiki. The only Greek honey that has been awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, is the fir honey from Vytina, in the Peloponnese.


HONEY PRODUCERS CONTACT INFO

Sithon Agricultural Beekeeping Cooperative of Nikiti http://www.honeysithon.gr/en/
Μelissokomiki Synergasia Kritis https://cretanhoney.gr/
Meli helmos by Family Souka https://melihelmos.gr/en/
Meli Acheloos https://www.acheloos.gr/en/
Evlogia, Potamitis family https://www.evlogia.gr/en/
Meli Mamas, Anagnostopoulos family https://www.melimamas.gr/