HONEYCOMB HONEY-EATER and other articles of food, it is largely consumed. Grafts, seeds and birds' eggs, for transmission to great distances, are sometimes packed in honey. In India a mixture of honey and milk or of equal parts of curds, honey and clarified butter (Sansk. madhu-parka), is a respectful offering to a guest, or to a bridegroom on his arrival at the door of the bride's father; anc one of the purificatory ceremonies of the Hindus (Sansk., madhuprdsana) is the placing of a little honey in the mouth of a newborn male infant. Honey is frequently alluded to by the writers of antiquity as food for children; it is not to this, however as already mentioned, that Isa. vii. 15 refers. Cream or fresh butter together with honey, and with or without bread, is a favourite dish with the Arabs.
Among the observances at the Fandroana or New Year's Festival, in Madagascar, is the eating of mingled rice and honey by the queen and her guests; in the same country honey is placed in the sacred water of sprinkling used at the blessing of the children previous to circumcision (Sibree, The Great African Is. pp. 219, 314, 1880). Honey was frequently employed in the ancient religious ceremonies of the heathen, but was forbidden as a sacrifice in the Jewish ritual (Lev. ii. n). With milk or water it was presented by the Greeks as a libation to the dead (Odyss. xi. 27; Eurip. Orest. 115). A honeycake was the monthly food of the fabled serpent-guardian of the Acropolis (Herod, viii. 41). By the aborigines of Peru honey was offered to the Sun.
The Hebrew word translated " honey " in the authorized version of the English Bible is debash, practically synonymous with which areja'ar orja'aritk kad-debash (i Sam. xix. 25-27; cf. Cant. v. i) and nopheth (Ps. xix. 10, etc.), rendered " honey-comb." Debash denotes bee-honey (as in Deut. xxxii. 13 and Jud. xiv. 8) ; the manna of trees, by some writers considered to have been the " wild honey " eaten by John the Baptist (Matt. iii. 4); the syrup of dates or the fruits themselves; and probably in some passages (as Gen. xliii. n and Ez. xxvii. 17) the syrupy boiled juice of the grape, resembling thin molasses, in use in Palestine, especially at Hebron, under the name of dibs (see Kitto, Cyclop., and E. Robinson, Bibl. Res. ii. 81). Josephus (B.J., iv. 8, 3) speaks highly of a honey produced at Jericho, consisting of the expressed juice of the fruit of palm trees; and Herodotus (iv. 194) mentions a similar preparation made by the Gyzantians in North Africa, where it is still in use. The honey most esteemed by the ancients was that of Mount Hybla in Sicily, and of Mount Hymettus in Attica (iii. 59). Mahaffy (Rambles in Greece, p. 148, 2nd ed., 1878)describes the honey of Hymettus as by no means so good as the produce of other parts of Greece not to say of the heather hills of Scotland and Ireland. That of Thebes, and more especially that of Corinth, which is made in the thymy hills towards Cleonae, he found much better (cf. xi. 88). Honey and wax, still largely obtained in Corsica (vi. 440), were in olden times the chief productions of the island. In England, in the 13th and 14th centuries, honey sold at from about 7d. to is. 2d. a gallon, and occasionally was disposed of by the swarm or hive, or ruscha (Rogers, Hist, of Agric. and Prices in Eng., i. 418). At Wrexham, Denbigh, Wales, two honey fairs are annually held, one on the Thursday next after the 1st of September, and the other the more recently instituted and by far the larger on the Thursday following the first Wednesday in October. In Hungary the amounts of honey and of wax are in favourable years respectively about 190,000 and 12,000 cwt., and in unfavourable years, as, e.g. 1874, about 12,000 and 3000 cwt. The hives there in 1870 numbered 6i7>47 (or 40 per loop of the population, against 45 in Austria). Of these 365,711 were in Hungary Proper, and 91,348 (87 per 1000 persons) in the Military Frontier (Keleti, Ubersicht der Bevolk. Ungarns, 1871 ; Schwicker, Statistik d. K. Ungarn, 1877). In Poland the system of bee-keeping introduced by Dolinowski has been found to afford an average of 40 Ib of honey and wax and two new swarms per hive, the common peasant's hive yielding, with two swarms, only 3 .Ib of honey and wax. In forests and places remote from villages in Podolia and parts of Volhynia, as many as 1000 hives may be seen in one apiary. In the district of Ostrolenka, in the government of Plock, and in the woody region of Polesia, in Lithuania, a method is practised of rearing bees in excavated trunks of trees (Stanton, " On the Treatment of Bees in Poland," Technologist, vi. 45, 1866). When, in August, in the loftier valleys of Bormio, Italy, flowering ceases, the bees in their wooden hives are by means of spring-carts transported at night to lower regions, where they obtain from the buckwheat crops the inferior honey which serves them for winter consumption (Ib. p. 38).
In Palestine, " the land flowing with milk and honey " l (Ex. iii. 17; Numb, xiii. 27), wild bees are very numerous, especially in the 1 In Sanskrit, madhu-kulyd, a stream of honey, is sometimes used to express an overflowing abundance of good things (Monier Williams, Sansk.-Eng. Diet., p. 736, 1872).
wilderness of Judaea, and the selling of their produce, obtained from crevices in rocks, hollows in trees and elsewhere, is with many of the inhabitants a means of subsistence. Commenting on I Sam. xiv. 26, J. Roberts (Oriental Illust.) remarks that in the East " the forests literally flow with honey ; large combs may be seen hanging en the trees, as you pass along, full of honey." In Galilee, and at Bethlehem and other places in Palestine, bee-keeping is extensively carried on. The hives are sun-burnt tubes of mud, about 4 f;. in length and 8 in. in diameter, and, with the exception of a small central aperture for the passage of the bees, closed at each end with mud. These are laid together in long rows, or piled pyramidally, and are protected from the Sun by a covering of mud and of boughs. The honey is extracted, when the ends have been removed, by means of an iron hook. (See Tristram, Nat. Hist, of the Bible, pp. 322 sqq., 2nd ed., 1868). Apiculture in Turkey is in a very rude condition. The Bali-dagh, or " Honey Mount," in the plain of Troy, is so called on account of the numerous wild bees tenanting the caves in its precipitous rocks to the south. In various regions of Africa, as on the west, near the Gambia, bees abound. Cameron was informed by his guides that the large quantities of honey at the cliffs by the river Makanyazi were under the protection of an evil spirit, and not one of his men could be persuaded to gather any (Across Africa, i. 266). On the precipitous slopes of the Teesta valley, in India, the procuring of honey from the pendulous bees'-nests, which are sometimes large enough to be conspicuous features at a mile's distance, is the only means by which the idle poor raise their annual rent (Hooker, Him. Journ. ii. 41).
To reach the large combs of Ap^s dorsata and A. testacea, the natives of Timor, by whom both the honey and young bees are esteemed delicacies, ascend the trunks of lofty forest trees by the use of a loop of creeper. Protected from the myriads of angry insects by a small torch only, they detach the combs from the under surface of the branches, and lower them by slender cords to the ground (Wallace, Journ. Linn. Soc., Zool., vol. xi.). (F. H. B.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)