Determining the symbolic meaning of the bee (as with any creature) is best done by observing its behavior, social habits, community and environment. Bees are highly social insect operating within a teamwork-based community with an intricate hierarchy. In many different cultures and myths honeybee's behavior is used as a model for lessons we can use for our own lives.
In Egypt, the bee was a symbol of royalty and power. This comes from the legend that the bee was born from the tears of Ra, who was an important sun god among ancient Egyptians. Furthermore, the ruler of Lower Egypt was often referred to as "He who belongs to the Bee." (Ransome 26)
Essene were a communal people who were devout to Judaism; they're known for their role as keepers of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Essene priests were referred to as "bees" because of their integral role within the community, their tireless devotion to God and their faith. In effect, Essene priests were busy as bees keeping the spiritual wisdom within the community available and protected. (Ransome 58)
As a symbol of love, bee meaning was associated with Cupid during Renaissance paintings. Bees are depicted stinging Cupid, the god of love and desire. The artistic symbolism deals with the blindness of love, and leaping into passion without regard to consequence. Apparently, Cupid is often shown dipping into honey, without thought to potential danger of protective bees. The Renaissance lesson here is "Beware of love's sting." (Wilson 14)
A community of honeybees has often been employed throughout history by political theorists as a model of human society. This occurs in the works of Aristotle, Plato, Virgil, Shakespeare, and Marx and Tolstoy.
Honeybees, signifying immortality and resurrection, were royal emblems of the Merovingian, revived by Napoleon.
"The bee- symbol of immortality and resurrection, the bee was chosen so as to link the new dynasty to the very origins of France. Golden bees (in fact, cicadas) were discovered in 1653 in Tournai in the tomb of Childeric I, founder in 457 of the Merovingian dynasty and father of Clovis. They were considered as the oldest emblem of the sovereigns of France." (The Symbol of the Empire)
A community of honey bees has often been employed throughout history by political theorists as a model of human society.