Research reveals Stone Age humans made use of beehives

The University of Bristol has published new research that show humans were actively farming and making use of beehive products at least 8,500 years ago. Going as far back as the Stone Age, evidence includes prehistoric rock art portraying honey hunters, as well as Egyptian murals depicting the act of beekeeping. However, what the research really uncovers is just how much of connection early farmers had with honeybees.

Pottery from the first European farmers — collected from over 150 archaeological sites — was found to contain the presence of beeswax in the clay. Similarly, researchers say the chemical 'fingerprint' of beeswax was found at Neolithic sites across Europe, such as in cooking pots originating from Turkey.

While the oldest evidence of the use of bee products by Neolithic farmers dates back to the seventh millennium BC, the researchers didn't just look at Europe, but areas in the Near East and Northern Africa as well.

The paper's lead author, Dr. Mélanie Roffet-Salque, comments that the value in exploiting honeybees would not only have been to use honey as a sweetener, but also beeswax, "for various technological, ritual, cosmetic and medicinal purposes, for example, to waterproof porous ceramic vessels."

SOURCE University of Bristol