Bees have been sacred to the Divine Feminine for thousands of years in ancient civilizations from Babylon to Rome. Virtually all bees are female and they serve a single Queen Bee. Only bees can perform the transformative magic of turning pollen into honey. In ancient times, honey was the only sweetener available. It was also a powerful and much valued preservative. Honey was accordingly seen as one of the most precious gifts of the Goddess.
In Classical Greece, many Goddesses such as Rhea, Artemis, Cybele and Demeter were characterized as Bee Goddesses (among their other attributes). Their priestesses were called "melissae," which is Greek for "honeybees," because they served the Bee Goddess. At the temple of Artemis in Ephesus, the Goddess was also served by castrated priests called "essenes," which is Greek for "drones" (male bees).