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Cretan honey has a very rich history that goes back thousands of years, when the Minoan civilization flourished on the island. The Minoans considered it as a gift from the Gods and used it in their food as well as for treatment for health problems. They loved bees and depicted them on vases, plaques and honey jars, on jewelry and on numerous wall paintings. Even the costume of the Minoan woman has 7 belts like the belly zones of the Cretan Bee. An archaeological find from a quote in a Linear B text mentions exactly the word MELI, meaning honey, as used by the Greeks today.

Ever since the Minoan civilization, Crete has continuously produced honey. The production of honey has been passed down from generation to generation and is carried out in a natural way. Beekeepers in Crete produce small quantities of honey by selecting the best nectar from the island's wide variety of flora. Producers avoid high temperatures that work destructively for vitamins. This handmancraftship approach to honey production has resulted in a product unlike any other. Each jar of Cretan honey is unique.

The Cretan bee apis mellifica adamis has a small body with a golden-copper color, it is aggressive and resistant to many diseases. It is known for producing some of the best honey in the world. The rich and diverse plant life in Crete contributes to the excellent quality of the honey. Flowering plants such as the thyme, the rosemary, wildflowers and citrus provide the bees with their nutritious nectar and help them make the honey rich in taste, aroma and nutrients. Also, the warm climate of the island allows the collection of nectar and pollen almost all year round.

Cretan honey is delicious and nutritious. It is rich in antioxidants, it is a good source of B, C and E vitamins and minerals, calcium, magnesium and potassium. It provides energy with the glucose and fructose it contains and has a low glycemic index, suitable for people with diabetes.

Honey is used a lot in Cretan cuisine in both savory and sweet recipes. It is used in dressings, marinades and sauces. The sweet taste of the honey complements the salty taste of the cheese and creates a perfect balance of flavors. Myzithropites are a type of cheese pie and are a key element to Cretan cuisine. They are made with various cheeses, and in many variations such as mizithra, feta or graviera. They are fried and served as desserts. Combined with honey, these savory pies become irresistibly delicious. Cretans always enjoy them with a raki.

Unfortunately, nowadays, climate change and the reckless use of pesticides have affected the behavior of bees. Synchronization between the bees and the seasons has been lost as the plants bloom earlier. Bees carry pesticide-contaminated pollen to their nests and are, thus, threatened with extinction. A UN resolution in 2017 highlighted the need to protect bees worldwide, as they are directly linked to the survival of a large part of the human population.

(More articles about Crete on www.gomega.gr)