Despite the honeybee's painful sting and the typical attitude towards insects as pests, people generally hold bees in high regard. This is most likely due to their usefulness as pollinators and as producers of honey, their social nature, and their diligence. Although a honeybee sting can be deadly to those with allergies, virtually all other bee species are non-aggressive if undisturbed, and many cannot sting at all. Bees are used to advertise many products, particularly honey and foods made with honey, thus being one of the few insects used on advertisements.
Bees reveal the harmony in nature. For one, almost all bees are obligately dependent on flowers, in order to receive pollen and nectar, and the flowering plants are dependent on the bees for pollination. This is a classic example of dual purposes, where an organism seeks its own individual purpose (survival, reproduction, development, maintenance) and yet provides values to the ecosystem and to others. Both bees and the plants provide value to each other. This also fits with the view of Lynn Margulis and Dorien Sagan (1986) that "Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking."
Some bees, notably the eusocial bees, also exhibit altruism. A honeybee, for example, will sting a potential predator. In the process, the honeybee will die, but the colony is protected. Likewise, the worker bees do not reproduce, but sacrifice themselves for the sake of the queen and offspring and the colony. Altruistic behavior increases the survival or fitness of others, but decreases that of the actor.
Bees also offer a fitting analogy for harmony in human societies. Bee Wilson (2004) states that a community of honeybees have often been employed historically by political theorists as a model of human society:
This image occurs from ancient to modern times, in Aristotle and Plato; in Virgil and Seneca; in Erasmus and Shakespeare; Tolstoy, as well as by social theorists Bernard Mandeville and Karl Marx.