At the temple of Aphrodite at Eryx, priestesses were called “melissae”, which means “bees,” and Aphrodite herself was called Melissa, the queen bee. At the Ephesian temple of Artemis, the melissae were accompanied by transgendered priests called “essenes”, meaning drones. Bees are classified as members of the hymenopteran order, meaning “veil-winged,” recalling the hymen or veil that covered the inner shrine of the Goddess’s temple, and the high priestess who bore the title of Hymen, presiding over marriage rituals and the Honey Moon.
The Birth of Aphrodite (Venus) by Botticelli
Pythagoreans worshipped bees as Aphrodite’s sacred creature, who in their honeycombs create perfect hexagons; their endless symmetry seemed to suggest to them an underlying order in the cosmos. Demeter is also known as the mother bee, who governs the cycles of life. In ancient Greece, the dead were often embalmed in honey in large burial vases, crouched in the fetal position for their next birth.
Stories from: http://www.philomuse.com/kingfisher/lab/bees.htm (A Garden of Bees)