Cypriot honey comes exclusively from floral nectar, which includes thyme, orange blossom, sumac, germander, wild lavender and myrtle. A recent visit to Oros Machaira honey farm in Melini provided an insight into honey production and products sold by the company.
This family business has been producing award-winning honey since 1983, although they have just recently opened their premises. Plant manager, Maria Solomonidou, gave us a warm Cypriot welcome, followed by an educational tour. While we did not encounter actual beehives, a short video depicted the process of honey extraction from the honeycomb. Following a lively quiz on bees, we were then shown the room where the honey is strained, stored and bottled.
After sampling unheated blossom honey, blossom honey and thyme honey, I decided to purchase a jar of thyme honey. The flavour is more intense than the blossom honey, which tends to have a unique, milder taste. Unheated blossom honey comes straight from the honeycomb without filtering or heat treatment, which means it retains all its pollen and yeast grains.
Other products include pollen, royal jelly, propolis, beeswax and honeycomb, as well as organic cosmetics.
Maria kindly refreshed us with homemade lemonade and pites made from her grandmother's recipe so we could try out more honey!
The first written records of beekeeping are from ancient Egypt, where honey was used not only as a sweetener but also for medicinal purposes. It has been widely used through centuries to treat coughs, colds and skin wounds due to its antibacterial properties.
The Bible refers to honey on several occasions. Perhaps the most well-known reference describes the Promised Land, which was 'a land flowing with milk and honey', suggesting prosperity and abundance.
King Solomon likened wisdom to the sweetness of honey in the book of Proverbs:
My child, eat honey, for it is good,
and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
if you find it, you will find a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.
Proverbs 24: 13-14
Solomon also compared kind words to the sweetness and healing properties of honey:
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
As we enjoy Cypriot honey with its distinctive flavour and aroma, may we contemplate what Biblical authors wrote about this wonderful natural gift from our Creator.
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!