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Rea gave birth to Zeus in a cave in the mountains of the island of Crete to protect him from his father Cronus who ate his children. The nymph Melissa (bee in Greek) took care of Zeus feeding him honey and milk from Amalthea. Cronus was so outraged he changed Melissa into an earthworm. Zeus took pity and transformed her into a bee.

The priestesses were often called Melissae, particularly in the temples of Aphrodite, Artemis and Demeter. The Pythian oracular priestess at Delphi was known as the Delphic Bee and Delphic coins had a bee on them in her honour.

The honeybee has evolved over millions of years. The earliest recorded bee was found in Myanmar embedded in amber. The fossil was dated back at around 100 million years ago.

Early civilizations were skilled honey hunters and gathered honey from wild bees, a rather painful practice. Organised beekeeping appeared around 3000 B.C. in Greece, Egypt and Israel. Honey was not only used as food but also as medicine and offering to the gods. Modern apiculture as we know it today begun in the 19th century with the invention of the movable comb hive by Lorenzo Langstroth. Until then harvesting the honey destroyed the entire beehive. With Langstroth's system the honey could be harvested without harming the bees and their larvae.

The bees live in an amazingly organised society. Every colony has one queen bee whose only purpose is to reproduce. She will lay between 800 and 2000 eggs a day. The queen is bigger in size than the worker bees and lives much longer (up to 5 years).

The workers are smaller in size. They are also female but do not reproduce. They do all the work. They tend to the nymphs, they feed the queen and the drones, they clean and repair the hive, produce wax and build the honeycomb, collect the nectar and make the honey, keep the hive at a constant temperature of 34 degrees Celsius using their wings like fans in summer and forming a sphere around the queen and nymphs to keep them warm in winter, protect the hive with their sting. They live for about 3 months.

The drones are the male bees. Their only purpose is to mate with the queen and then they die. They are fed by the worker bees and do not do any work in the hive. They do not survive over winter and those who are still alive by autumn are escorted out of the hive by the workers.

Bees produce different types of honey depending on the location of the beehive and the surrounding plant varieties. Besides honey bees also produce wax which they use to make their honeycombs. We use it for candles and in cosmetology. Propolis a resinous substance is used by the bees to disinfect their hive, seal cracks, embalm large intruders. We use it for its antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties. Royal jelly is used to feed the nymphs and the queen bee. We use it as a supplement. The bee venom used by the bees to defend their hive is used as treatment for arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other auto-immune diseases. Bee keepers rarely suffer from arthritis.

Besides all these products we take from them, bees play an essential role in our overall food supply. Around a third of the food we eat is estimated to be dependent on bee pollination. Einstein said "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live". Since 2006 the bee populations are threatened by the Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon where bees just disappear. It is believed that CCD is caused by pesticides.