Bees and honey were important in Egyptian life right from the earliest moments of the country’s history. Honey was not just a staple food but also used as currency. The beekeepers must have been revered members of their communities and some carried very grand titles for their jobs.
The God Ra is the queen of the honeybees and that make bees very sacrosanct in ancient Egyptian culture and honey a product of the Gods. The first official mention recognizing the importance of honey in ancient Egypt dates from the first dynasty. The oldest pictures of beekeepers in action are from the Old Kingdom, in Niuserre’s sun temple, where beekeepers are shown blowing smoke into hives as they are removing the honeycombs. After extracting the honey from the combs it was strained and poured into earthen jars which were then sealed.
Gene Kritsky, author of The Tears of Re, holds a PhD in Entomology and specialized in the history of biology. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Egypt in 1981-1982, where he began his research in Egyptology. He describes the sophisticated beekeeping techniques of the ancient Egyptians—such as smoking the hive and the calling of the queen.