Millions of years ago when plant world started to produce pollen for reproduction there was a parallel evolution of pollinators. The variety of plants that used this method of reproduction number in the millions as do the pollinators that evolved with them. These insects and birds and various mammals help the evolution of these plants and help to spread and create the many different flowers and foods we experience today.
Plants produce flowers, which have parts that are covered in pollen. The flower also produces nectar which attracts animals and insect to it’s sweetness. As the nectar is gathered, the flower drops pollen onto the insect or animal so as it goes to the next flower the pollen is passed on from flower to flower. This is the basic method of plant reproduction which hasn’t really changed for the past 100 million years or so. It’s been a long time for this relationship to grow and as the diversity of plants change as does the diversity of pollinators. Some plants have developed sch unique flowers that only an animal with those certain unique attributes can gather the nectar and therefore pollinate the flower. “Specific pollinators for specific pollen’s”.
As with the variety of plants the variety of bees has also developed on all continents in the world in all climates except the polar regions. There are over 20,000 different types of bee’s in the world. They belong to the family Anthophila, (monophyletic lineage) which is closely related to the wasps. They are commonly separated by the fact that they do not eat prey and can produce wax and feed their young pollen.
The oldest fossils of bees are about 150 million years old. The relationship of bee and humans is as old as our writin history. There are cave paintings in Spain that show bees being used by humans from around 7000 BC. The Egyptians used to transport the bees up and down the Nile to pollinate the date palms and other crops. The Egyptians were the first culture to “HIVE” bees , and there are hieroglyphs on the walls of the temple of the sun which date back to 2400 BC. There are pictures that show bees on rafts being moved up and down the Nile and in pictures associated with royalty. The Egyptians also used the wax and propolis to water proof the boats and as binding method for tools. Honey and wax was used in the mummification process and for make up for the rich. It was used as a sweetener and in their cooking. It was also considered a very important gift to the gods in the religious offerings.The humble bee has been revered for hundreds of years and has been the emblems. The King of the first Dynasty of Egypt had a bee as his sign.
The Greeks were also know to give the gods food offerings and honey. The ancient Greeks thought that honey had healing properties and it was used and medican all throughout the ancient world. The Greeks were very fond of honey and used in all types of cakes, meats, wines, cheese’s . Propolis was used by the greeks as a antiseptic. The word Propolis roughly translated means “City defender”. The bee was used on the coins of Ephesus a town in ancient Greece.
The Roman empire was alive with bee keeping. They also gave honey snacks as gifts to the gods and were still using it in medicine and make up.
As Christianity grew the need for bee keepers to produce wax for the church’s candles meant that beekeeping was very important. Honey was turned into mead and wines and the wax was used for lighting. The use of bees wax was the cleanest form of lighting for buildings in those days. honey was the most common sweetener until the arrival of sugar in the renaissance. Sugar became the most common sweetener, and honey was used far less as histroy took a liking to the availability of sugar from South America.
Napoleon had bee’s embroided on his flag and clothing.
Bees have been attributed to the Feminine energy, due to the matriachal society where the Queen controls the whole colony and the colony is made up of mainly femals with th male drone playing a minor role in the hive.