Greek words for “bee” and “honey” along with the words for “study of dust,” which now refers to “pollen.” Today, it is recognized worldwide as being the least expensive and quickest way to determine the floral contents and geographical origin of honey. However, the effectiveness of the technique depends on the skills of the pollen analysis (palynologist), the method of extracting the pollen from honey samples, and the skill of the analyst in interpreting the results. Today honey has become an important commercial business and provides sweetness used in thousands of products.

Humans have five basic taste abilities, sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami (defined as savory). Of these, we generally do not enjoy foods that are too bitter, too sour, or too salty. However, humans seem to love sweetness and most cannot get enough of eating sweet things. This is probably what drove our ancestors to begin robbing bee hives in prehistoric times. How early that might have begun we don’t know, but paintings on the walls of the Altamira Caves in Spain date to about 15,000 years ago and show people on ladders robbing hives for the honey. In historic times the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and other early cultures all wrote about the importance of honey as their main sweetener for foods and wine. During medieval times dome-shaped beehive skeps were in common use and the skep is still the most common symbol for beekeeping.

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