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.