How Did They Collect Honey in Ancient Times?

In ancient times, honey was a highly prized commodity for its nutritional and medicinal value. Honey was used as sweeteners, wound dressings, and even embalming fluid.

But how did ancient people collect honey? Let’s take a look at some of the methods they used.

Cliff Honey Hunting

One of the earliest and most popular methods of collecting honey in ancient times was cliff honey hunting. This method was practiced by various cultures around the world, including ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Mayans.

The process involved finding a natural beehive on the side of a cliff or high up in a tree. The hunter would then use smoke to calm the bees before climbing up to collect the honey. The smoke would mask their scent and prevent them from attacking.

The Use of Smoke

Smoke was an essential tool in collecting honey in ancient times. It was used to keep bees calm during the collection process. The smoke would interfere with their communication system, making it difficult for them to send out warning signals to other bees.


As civilization progressed, beekeeping became more widespread. Beekeepers began to domesticate bees by creating artificial hives made of materials like clay or straw.

These hives were designed to mimic natural beehives found in trees or cliffs. As beekeeping became more advanced, new types of hives were developed using materials like wood or metal.

Harvesting Honey from Beehives

Once bees were domesticated, harvesting honey became much easier. Beekeepers could remove individual frames from hives that contained honeycombs filled with honey.

These frames were then taken back to the beekeeper’s workshop where they could extract the honey using tools like knives or presses.

  • Knives: Knives were used to cut open the wax caps that covered the honeycombs. This allowed the honey to flow out of the cells and into a container.
  • Presses: Presses were used to extract honey from the combs. The comb was placed in a press, and pressure was applied to crush it, causing the honey to flow out.


In conclusion, ancient people used various methods to collect honey. From cliff honey hunting to beekeeping, they found ways to obtain this valuable commodity. The use of smoke and tools like knives and presses made the process easier and safer.

Today, we continue to collect honey using many of these same methods. However, modern technology has allowed us to refine these techniques, making it easier than ever before to enjoy this sweet treat.